Say goodbye to Windows XP, hello to ATM hackers

WASHINGTON– In less than a month, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP, and that’s going to affect more than just home computers — it will also cause trouble at the ATM.

About 95 percent of large bank ATMs run on the 12-year-old operating system. Without technical support, those ATMs will be vulnerable to hackers.

CNN’s Money Reporter Jose Pagliery says if hackers discover a pathway that isn’t patched up by Microsoft, they can attack ATMs. “Maybe they can infect the ATM with a virus that will allow the ATM to spit out cash. That’s bad for the bank, not necessarily for you.” However, he added, “if they’re really savvy, maybe they could trick the ATM to ask you to type your pin on screen in an unsafe way.”

Upgrading the systems will be expensive and could take months. “It’s not just the software. A lot of these banks will just have to rip apart the hardware and replace the ATMs entirely,” Pagliery says.

With only weeks left before the April 8 deadline, some banks are applying for security update extensions. Pagliery says that’s not a long-term solution, and it’s not clear why banks have waited so long to upgrade. “We’ve known this is going to go on for a while. Microsoft didn’t surprise the world by telling them they were going to stop supporting XP. We all knew it was going to end relatively soon.”

Pagliery says he’s hesitant about using ATMs until the banks take a more decisive action. “I’ve got to admit that I feel a little less comfortable using ATMs starting in April. At least until the banks publicly announce that they’ve upgraded all of their systems.”

WTOP’s Bruce Alan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.

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