Time to Ditch XP: The ATM Crisis is Looming

Industry Transformations3 minutes readMar 5th, 2014

The clock is ticking toward a Y2K-like deadline. In just a few weeks, Microsoft will officially pull the plug off its 12-year old operating system XP, which means there won’t be any new security patches or upgrades for systems running the software.

But shockingly, 95% of the 420,000 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the United States may still be running on XP.  What is more alarming is the fact that only 15% of U.S. ATMs are expected to be ported to Windows 7 by April 8, 2014. With many banks still months away from migrating to Windows 7/8, these unprotected machines pose a new systemic risk to the banking industry.

Like any other XP-based system, ATMs stand vulnerable to hackers wielding malware attacks, making them not just open to security risks but also non-compliant with payment card industry (PCI) protocols.

So, what happens if banks fail to upgrade their teller machines before the deadline? Can they continue to run these machines on unpatched systems? Does that translate to heightened security and compliance risks? What can they do to strengthen their defenses against ATM attacks? Will they have to make investments in upgrading the infrastructure?

Defunct XP: A Complex Upgrade

While the Federal Reserve has been issuing warnings to US banks to prepare for security lapses on teller machines and other systems, most banks are unprepared to deal with the impending XP crisis. Some of them are relying on a stripped-down version of XP known as Windows XP Embedded, which is believed to be less susceptible to viruses and will continue to receive support from Microsoft until early 2016. However, ATMs aren’t like any average desktop machine. Moving to a new OS is far more complicated than simply reinstalling the ATM code on a newer version. It requires fulfilling the hardware specifications for an upgrade or rebuilding from scratch, which of course is an expensive proposition.

Unisys has built an innovative software-based security solution to help protect mission-critical systems such as process control, point of sale, ATMs, Electronic Health Records, and other critical environments vulnerable to security compromise.

Stealth is designed to isolate and protect XP environments running legacy applications. The solution offers a secure environment for banks that cannot move their ATMs to a new OS and require their critical applications running on XP to function smoothly. Deploying Stealth can help eliminate cyber-attacks and malware infiltrating the XP workstations. The solution can help foster secure, continuous operations of ATMs that are still running XP by:

  • Isolating  mission-critical systems running XP and segregating them from the rest of the enterprise
  • Making XP endpoints virtually undetectable to unauthorized users and systems inside and outside your enterprise

See how Unisys Stealth can protect your XP environment using Data Center Segmentation.

Tags-   Anti-fraud CyberSecurity Windows XP XP end-of life XP migration