The thing about being the second most popular operating system in the world is that the designation comes with a wide, wide reach. The vintage Windows XP, for example, can be found pretty much everywhere, even as we approach its retirement date.
Microsoft is going to stop providing support and updates for this classic old OS early next year, and the software titan has made it a priority convincing everyone to make the move to a newer version of Windows.
And security is the topmost consideration for Microsoft is its quest to convince the Windows XP user base to make the move to upgrade.
The company regularly points to the security risks that are caused (and in the near future, could potentially be caused) by an unpatched operating system. But it is getting clear that not everyone cares about this straight away, surely not all financial institutions.
According to this new report by Information Week, no less than 75 percent of ATMs in the United States are still running Windows XP, even as the retirement date is now less than 8 months away.
Security is always a main treat for ATM operators, but still, experts believe that it is rather hard for an attacker to identify the operating system (or at least the Windows version) of a cash machine.
As the research director at IDC Financial Insights, Marc DeCastro put it:
“While the sunset of any operating system should cause concern, I am not certain that most crooks will be able to identify the OS of an ATM, thus it is less likely that simply running an ATM with Windows XP represents a bigger threat.”
Still, one ugly attack could potentially spiral a wave of hacks and attacks against ATM, and this would be a rather unfortunate disaster if it comes to it.
Computer security experts have clearly warned that hackers and cybercriminals are waiting for an opportunity to pounce on Windows XP computers after the retirement date, and as noted above, Microsoft regularly brings this up.
Regardless, the Windows XP user base is still noticeably large — latest estimates reveal that Windows XP is still powering about 37 percent of computers around the globe.