Your ATM Is Probably Running Windows XP, Should You Trust It?

After so much waiting, it's almost hard to believe that the day of XP's death is upon us. At this point, if you're still running Windows XP, you're either incredibly loyal to the OS, or don't surf the Internet too much. Given the fact that this April 8th date has been known about since 2009, it's truly amazing that it's still so widely used. Net Applications' most recent reports pits XP use at 30%. That's 30% of all Web surfers, across all OSes.

Even more incredible might be the fact that the OS is used on over 80% of the world's ATMs. This is a subject we've covered time and time again. And again. But the fact of the matter is, if Windows XP is dead, as far as Microsoft's concerned, that poses some serious risks. After all, despite the fact that the OS' death date was chosen five years ago, it's still been receiving patches for critical updates.

Credit: Gordon Joly - Flickr

So what's that mean for ATMs? Can they even be trusted, when running an outdated, unsupported OS? At the moment, the answer is simple: There's not a great risk. Because some companies in the enterprise have clearly been lazy in getting around to updating their ATMs, Microsoft's offering companies that still need support another year's worth - but it's going to cost them, and handsomely.

I read the other day on Microsoft's site (for the life of me, I can't find it again), that one bank has just transitioned 30,000 of its ATMs to a newer version of Windows (I believe 7), so it's clear that there's going to be a lot of movement over the next couple of months with other banks following-suit. Still, I consider it appalling that banks have waited quite so long, because even with extended support contracts, it's not going to stop someone from unleashing an unreleased exploit now that they know Microsoft is wiping its hands clean of the OS.

In truth, it's hard at this point to predict the future. What's not hard to figure out though is that Windows XP is outdated, and the reason Microsoft has ceased support is because of that. A 12-year-old piece of software, especially an OS, can be deemed ancient. And in many ways, XP truly is.