ATM industry is in a state of flux since Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP from April 8. Around 95% of ATM machines in the world run of Windows XP.
What is the effect of this decision?
This means Microsoft will stop handling security issues related to Windows XP. Microsoft will not provide security fixes for Windows XP. So if a bug attacks the ATM machine it is the responsibility of the bank to fix it. This makes the ATM machines vulnerable to hacking. Hackers and criminals always attack systems that have weak security. Every bank is trying hard to switch over to Windows 7 or 8.
But, why has this transition been slow?
The delay in switching over to Windows 7 or 8 is because the cost involved is high. Banks and ATM vendors who provide ATM programs need to update the hardware before having this switch over. It requires a lot of time plus a physical access to each machine. Thus, the switch over is going to be a costly affair.
So, is my ATM machine vulnerable?
Most ATM machines run on an operating system called Windows Embedded. Some of them have lost support but, some will lose support by Jan 12, 2016. Windows Embedded Standard 2009 will get support till Jan 8, 2019. Microsoft has released dates till it is going to support different versions. Thus, it depends on what version does the ATM machine run on.
Why is Microsoft stopping support?
It has economic reasons to do so. It doesn't make sense to use its resources to provide support to an outdated operating system. Microsoft supports its operating systems for a decade. But, since Windows XP is popular it provided support for additional years.
Windows XP isn't able to combat modern security threats as it was designed years back. Thus, Microsoft has decided to discontinue support to Windows XP.
What to do?
It is essential to upgrade to windows 7 or 8 to avoid security loopholes and threats. Get in touch with your ATM vendor to provide a speedy remedy. Alternatively you can switch to Linux but you need to have the technical knowhow and the learning curve is steep.
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