As at last month when Microsoft killed support for Windows XP, the first thing that my mind went to were our Automated Teller Machines in Nigeria. At the time I thought all of them ran on Windows XP (the actual percentage of ATMs still running Windows XP in Nigeria is somewhere around 70%) and I assumed that as is the arrangement in some countries, the banks would have sorted arrangements to pay Microsoft directly for custom support; apparently, this is not the case.
According to this report, Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO), insists that no extended Window will be provided for banks in the country and instead, Microsoft was currently in discussions to migrate banks to Windows 8. He also did state that they were also “in conversations with them on how they can get custom-extended support.”
Note that he said they were still discussing and not that some form of agreement has been reached or that the migrations had started. So in essence, 70% of all the ATMs are sitting ducks waiting to be hacked with no support whatsoever.
Microsoft didn’t just wake up and discontinue support for Windows XP, in fact as far back as 14th, April 2009 Microsoft stopped offering mainstream support, so at the very least, banks and other companies that offer support to these ATMs had 5 years to migrate their applications and processes to a newer OS. Makes you wonder what the IT/IS departments at such firms do.
In any case, next time you are withdrawing from an ATM, there’s a 70% chance that it’s running an unsupported OS. I’m not saying that it means that 70% of all the ATMs are hacked, they were to be hacked, not much can be done to stop the damage hacks could potentially cause.