95% of ATMs At Risk Of Getting Hacked As Windows XP Support Ends April 8
Last year we had reported that Microsoft has finally decided to pull the plug on is most popular operating system: Windows XP. Though it will impact quite a number of computer users, one segment of it’s usage would be quite badly hit due to this decision by Microsoft: ATMs.
You would be surprised to know that more than 95% of all ATMs all over the world run on Windows XP operating system, and once Microsoft decides to stop updating its security and issuing updates, then it is most vulnerable to hacking and viruses.
Microsoft has said that after April 8th, 2014, they will not provide any security related patches and updates for Windows XP OS, and after this date, 95% of ATMs all over the world are at extreme risk of hacking and viruses.
Microsoft has strongly recommended updating to it’s higher version of Windows OS such as Windows 7 and Windows 8 in order to avoid inconvenience and security issues on Windows XP platform. But for millions of ATMs spread across the world, it can be a tough situation to update.
As ATMs contain real hard cash at any given moment of time, absence of security patches and technical support from Microsoft will mean that hackers will have a field day playing with it’s interface and hacking into customer’s accounts to siphon-off cash.
Timothy Rains, Microsoft’s director of trustworthy computing, told at a recent computer security conference in San Francisco, “The probability of attackers using security updates for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista to attack Windows XP is about 100 per cent,”
Security analysts are saying that hackers can reverse engineer their way into old vulnerable Windows XP based ATMs from the security updates announced for Windows 7 and Windows 8 platform.
It’s almost like a Y2K problem revisiting the technological world, but only for financial institutions this time. It is being speculated that more than one third of ATMs running on Windows XP will continue to run on older unattended OS after April 8th, as not all banks are technically equipped and capable of making such huge upgrades. On several ATM machines, the whole hardware needs to be updated for running Windows 7 or Windows 8 OS, making the transformation process more difficult, if not impossible.
Some banks in US & UK have asked Microsoft to provide them paid technical assistance till the time their ATMs are fully upgraded but no such deals or arrangement have been made in India, and this makes it an even more serious issue.
A Microsoft spokesperson said, “There are certainly large enterprise customers who haven’t finished their migrations yet and are purchasing custom support… The cost will depend on both the specific needs of the customer and what support they already have in place, so it’s different for every customer.”
Introduced in the year 2001, Windows XP has more than 500 million users as of now; it is considered the most successful Windows OS ever created, as Windows 7 is slowly replacing XP but the transformation will take time.