Microsoft nixes XP, security concerns over ATMs

Microsoft will stop issuing security updates for Windows XP next month and that’s raising big security concerns. Ninety-five-percent of ATMs still use the operating system, so if there are any holes or flaws in it, they won’t be fixed.

“They always have to be one step ahead, because there’s always somebody trying to do better than the banks,” said customer Bob Kitamura.

If a bank doesn’t upgrade its ATMs to a newer version of Windows by April 8, the machines will be exposed to cyber attacks.

Experts question whether banks are actually staying one step ahead. Bank of Hawaii says it’s upgrading in the second half of the year, months after the April 8 deadline. Central Pacific Bank says it plans to replace its ATMs by the end of the year and plans to have protection like firewalls in place in the meantime. But without the updated software, security experts say that’s not good enough.

“A lot of those updates are patch problems or weaknesses that are detected as the software goes along, so you’re just not going to have that protection,” said Lt. John McCathy of the Honolulu Police Department. “You can have the Wall of China there, it’s not going to work.”

The Hawaii Bankers Association said in a statement that “adequate safeguards and security measures are in place to ensure uninterrupted service without compromising the security of their data.” But, once again, if they’re still using the old software, they could be vulnerable.

“It’s not a good situation at all and people should be concerned,” says Dylan Nonaka of Supergeeks. “They should make sure that their banks upgrade their ATMs’ software before using them.”

It’s not just ATMs that are causing people to worry. Small businesses are also using the same software. Nonaka says there are plenty of small businesses out there that still use Windows XP for their transactions and keeping their records. If they don’t upgrade by April 8, then they and their customers can be victimized by hackers.

“If their contact information, their credit card information is in a business owner’s computer and they’re still running XP after April 8, it will be horrible,” Nonaka said.

Stay tuned to KHON2 for an update once banks upgrade their software and find out if it’s safe to use ATMs and your credit card as the deadline nears.

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