Bloomberg reports that around 95% of ATMs around the world still run on Microsoft’s 12 years old operating system, which is going to be discontinued in April. Though update support will still be available until 2015, they will still be susceptible to a variety of malware and viruses.
Still, ATMs run on a stripped version of Windows XP called “Embedded”, which is said to be less vulnerable to malware. But since we are talking about Microsoft Windows, nothing is that safe, especially with it being discontinued. And we are not talking about an information machine or coffee maker here, ATMs are extremely important devices which contain currency! A few weeks ago we saw a few cash machines infected with viruses with the help of a USB drive. Imagine what an outdated operating system in ATMs will be like to hackers.
The more bad news comes from Aravinda Korala, CEO at ATM software provider KAL, who states that he expects only 15% of ATMs in the US to be upgraded by the time Microsoft terminates support for Windows XP. Though Microsoft can sell custom support agreements for devices such as ATMs, the cost can soar quickly, to the extent that can lead to a much higher price than upgrading them altogether.
The cost to upgrade a single ATM to Windows 7 can range from a few hundred dollars if its hardware is adequate, to thousands of dollars if new components are required, according to Dean Stewart, executive at ATM maker Diebold. Although not all ATMs can be upgraded by the April deadline, they will still be able to operate, only with a greater risk of malware infection than before. However, customer balances are said to be safe under the standard protections banks offer to ATM users against fraud.
Thank you Bloomberg for providing us with this information