MS withdrawal of XP support: Banks allay security concerns

Mar 28 2014, 16:43 IST
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SummaryMicrosoft’s 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.

Microsoft’s 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 lender’s 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 we’ve started using the company’s 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 Bank’s Sethi estimates the software’s cost to be around R10,000-15,000 per machine.

NCR’s Dastur also said that there might be older ATMs whose hardware might be outdated and will need to be replaced.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 world’s 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

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