April 8, 2014 is the death date for Windows XP. As you may already know, Microsoft is ending its support for Windows XP on that date, which opens the OS to a dangerous range of hackers, cybercriminals, malware attacks, and other problems.
That means that nobody in their right minds should be using Windows XP after April 8, 2014.
Unfortunately, Windows XP continues to be one of the world’s most popular operating systems. Most market share figures claim it has about 20% of the desktop OS market.
That number has been declining for a few years, but that’s still a large number of users who could become infected.
So who, exactly, is still using Windows XP despite all the warnings from Microsoft and the 12+ years that have passed since the release of the OS?
Unfortunately, your ATM is probably still using Windows XP.
That’s really bad news for anyone who likes to get cash out of their machines. According to a recent report by the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA – which yes, is a real organization), approximately 95% of ATMs in the United States are still using Windows XP.
ATM companies are aware of the upcoming Windows XP problems. However, in spite of the upcoming security woes, only 40% of those ATM operators plan to switch away from Windows XP before the April 8 deadline.
In other words, approximately 50% of the world’s ATMs will continue running Windows XP after the April 8 2014 deadline has passed.
Is your cash safe?
Just because ATMs are using Windows XP doesn’t mean they’re susceptible to the same viruses and malware as a Windows XP desktop PC.
Many ATMs run Windows CE or embedded kernel versions of Windows XP, neither of which are affected by the April 8 deadline.
However, for the ATMs that continue to use Windows XP, it does give hackers a long time to figure out a way to hack into ATMs. Since there are no security updates incoming, hackers have an indefinite amount of time to find a way past the firewalls and encryption software used by today’s ATMs.
How do you upgrade an ATM OS?
The 40% of ATM operators who are switching away from XP will switch to Windows 7. Switching an OS in an ATM is something that many of us never think about. However, it involves approximately an hour of labor and physical access to the machine.
There is good news: virtually every ATM manufacturer is aware of the upcoming April deadline. If they don’t switch on or before April 8, they will likely switch soon afterwards.
Unless you’re using ATMs managed by obscure third-party companies (i.e. not a major financial institution or bank), then your cash should be safe.