MS withdrawal of XP support: Banks allay security concerns

Written by Shashidhar KJ | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 28 2014, 22:13pm hrs
Microsofts deadline for withdrawing support to Windows XP is inching closer, but banks are confident that transactions through automated teller machines (ATMs) will not be affected.

A majority of ATMs in the country run on the Windows XP operating system, to which Microsoft will discontinue support on April 8. Consequently, systems running on the 12-year old operating system will no longer get security updates or technical support.

While some banks are looking at ATM vendors for security solutions, others like Axis Bank have opted for a customised extension support from Microsoft depending on their existing systems.

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Microsoft has extended support for machines running on Windows XP and most companies have subscribed to the service for a nominal fee, said Amit Sethi, chief technology officer at Axis Bank.

Sethi added that customers will not face security threats from using ATMs during migration to newer version of Windows.

KVS Manian, head of consumer banking at Kotak Mahindra Bank, said that the lenders ATM network which has 1,036 machines will be upgraded by the end of the year.

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In the meantime, we have taken security measures till the operating system migration is complete," Manian said adding, Our ATMs are from NCR and weve started using the companys Solidcore suite which takes care of security breaches.

Bankers and experts said that the cost of upgrading will differ vastly from bank to bank. Currently, most banks want to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 and Axis Banks Sethi estimates the softwares cost to be around R10,000-15,000 per machine.

NCRs Dastur also said that there might be older ATMs whose hardware might be outdated and will need to be replaced. A new ATM costs between R3.2-3.5 lakh. There are currently about 1,45,000 ATMs in the country and NCR, the worlds largest manufacturer of ATMs, estimates that not even 25% of them have migrated to the new versions of Windows. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) too sounded a warning last week asking banks to upgrade their systems.

The ageing operating system has long been a target of hackers and a Microsoft report estimates that Windows XP installations are six times more likely to be infected by malware than Windows 8 machines.

ATM manufacturers such as NCR are also providing software suites on their machines which prevent attacks from malware. Navroze Dastur, managing director at NCR India, explained that the companys Solidcore software suite whitelists applications running on an ATM and prevents changes on the operating system by malicious software. The software authorizes only approved software to run on them. If someone tries to hack into an ATM the software will not be allow any changes to be made, he added.

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