ATMs face the end of security support

NEW YORK (WWLP/CNN) – Going to the ATM to take out cash, we all do it without thinking twice. In just a few weeks, ATM’s could be an easier target for hackers.

It’s a race against time. Banks across the country need to upgrade their ATM’s by next month, or customers’ information could be at risk.

The problem is Windows XP. It’s more than a decade old, but 95-percent of bank ATM’s still use it. Come April 8th, Microsoft will stop issuing security updates for XP.

So if there are holes or flaws in the operating system, they won’t be fixed. That’s music to a hacker’s ears. A nightmare for customers, because there are 200-thousand bank ATM’s in the U.S.

As a result, some of the biggest names are rushing to beat the clock. Citibank and Wells Fargo are upgrading ATM’s, but the companies aren’t giving any more details.

J.P. Morgan Chase will upgrade its ATM’s in July, two months after Microsoft stops updating XP. In the mean time, J.P. Morgan struck a deal with Microsoft to get XP service for another year.

For big banks, the issue is that replacing an ATM isn’t easy. Software updates sometimes have to be done one ATM at a time.

Some experts told 22News that bank ATM’s have additional safeguards and are protected by a more secure network.

“The security bar is a lot higher with a bank or another secure set-up. They usually have some additional firewall and software protection that prevents intruders from coming into their network and doing as much damage as they ordinarily would,” said Anthony Russell-Smith of Yes Computers in Northampton.

Russell-Smith also told 22News there’s a bigger concern for people’s personal computers. Unlike major banks’ computer systems, if you stop receiving security updates on your personal device that’s running Windows XP, your device may be more vulnerable to hackers.

There’s a bit irony in the story: those random ATM’s in malls and bars run on an even older version of windows, a version Microsoft still supports.

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