Ninety-five percent of the ATMs in the United States - that's about 200,000 ATMs total - are running on Windows XP.
Which was all fine and good, as long as that operating system was still being supported.
That's right: on April 8th of this year, Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows XP, permanently taking it off life support. Why? Well, to use their own words, "Windows XP is 12 years old—that’s pretty old for an operating system."
So what does this mean for financial institutions? A mad scramble. Any bank that continues to rely on Windows XP for their ATMs is putting their customers at risk; the moment a hacker finds a hole in the operating system, they've found an inroad that no one is guarding anymore.
The problem is, replacing an operating system is no small task.
"This isn't a Y2K thing, where we're expecting the financial system to shut down. But it's fairly serious," said Kurtis Johnson, an ATM expert with U.S. manufacturer Triton (source).
In response, banks are taking a few different tacks.
- Paying hefty fees to get Microsoft to extend support for a limited time
- Taking the opportunity to introduce new features, notably microchip card readers
- Streamlining OS functionality now to make future software upgrades easier
To find out how specific institutions in the U.S. and the U.K. are approaching the transition - including JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group - be sure to read the Reuters article.