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As Windows XP says goodbye, are ATMs vulnerable?

  • Vivek Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2014 00:49 IST

More than 20,000 ATM machines across India face an uncertain future and the threat of virus attacks after software giant Microsoft announced it will not support its Windows XP operating system after April 8. This potentially stops customers from getting security patches to fend off the machines from hacker attacks or virus infection.

Microsoft, which launched Windows XP in 2001, had been urging users across the globe to upgrade to its newer Windows 7 or 8 operating systems.

“The probability of security breaches will grow exponentially on Windows XP running beyond the end of support. This is even more risky for financial institutions’ (in-house and ATMs),” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

As on March 31, 2013 India had around 1.15 lakh ATMs, of which, an estimated 20% are still running on Windows XP.

Indian banks do not themselves operate their ATMs, rather outsource them to third-party vendors like Diebold and NCR.

Diebold and NCR said they have safety mechanisms in place.

“The good news is that ATMs — including those running Windows XP — will continue to function normally after Microsoft’s April deadline. Financial institutions that do not migrate to Windows 7 will have plans in place to maintain the integrity and security of their systems,” said Navroze Dastur, managing director, financial business, NCR India.

Girish Chavan, national manager, project services, Diebold India said all ATMs are not connected to the Internet so a hacker would need to reach it through the bank’s network, “....and to breach a bank’s firewall is not easy.”

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