ATMs Open to Hacking

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Computer programs are obsolete before they even get put on the market and it’s been that way for years now. There’s also the added bonus of actually making sure that the buyers keep buying and always want the latest. Obsolescence has been part of our lives ever since we went digital, hasn’t it? Perhaps even before then. But, back then, things lasted longer than they do today. Or is that just the old folk that reminisce about the past and how good it actually was? Well maybe we will all be harking back to a better time in the next few weeks when Microsoft pulls the plug on the updates to banks’ ATMs around the world.

Most bank machines (95% of ATMs I the world) use Microsoft XP (OS) in their cash machines, wherever you are in the world. On April 8th 2014, Microsoft will no longer be providing those updates, leaving your and my ATM at the bank far more vulnerable than it was in the past. The software was originally installed in 2001.

But, that was when the banks had a lot of money to waste. Since the financial crisis, those updates have been thrown to the wayside. The banks are poor, so we are told. Although, it can’t be true when only in February it was announced that the USA’s six biggest banks ((JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) had all made more profit in 2013 than compared to prior to the financial crisis. Net income for the six rose by 21% and reached $74.1 billion. That was all thanks to the rise in the stock market, due to false hopes from the Federal Reserve and virtual booming of the economy. In 2006, when the housing bubble was raking in more money than ever before (right at the peak before it burst), those six earned $84.6 billion and that’s the last time those six earned more profits than for 2013. JPMorgan Chase, for example, is expected to make $23 billion in profit alone this year. Wells Fargo is expected to see an increase in profit for the fifth year in a row, hitting $21 billion in 2014.

But, ok, let’s surmise that the banks don’t have enough money to pay for the update in the software. Or they have had enough of being just another cash cow to Microsoft and they don’t want tugging on their udders and getting milked for a new software program.

There’s only one problem with that and that’s the fact that the software is like a firewall to your computer and will stop cyber-attacks (or at least, slow them down).

Apparently, the banks in the world have agreed to update to a different operating system at some undefined time in the future. Apparently, the banks may not be aware that in the meantime, while the old operating system is no longer being updated and when the brand spanking new (and thus very expensive) software program comes into operation, there will be an open door for cyber-attacks on ATMs.

Two thirds of banks in the world will not be upgrading to a newer operating system by the deadline of April 8th. Why would the two thirds worry? Simply because that means that customers’ bank details and accounts will be accessible.

You can bet your bottom dollar that you will be taking from that ATM down the block that it will be costing the account holder more and more. If banks upgrade or request support from Microsoft, it has been suggested that it will cost millions (passed on to the account holder).

20% of ATMs in the world are in the USA. There are some 2.2 million worldwide with most running on the Microsoft XP OS. Plus, as anyone knows, change the software and the hardware will stop running and that means banks will also be replacing them in coming months and years. More money that the banking sector will have to find in its apparent poverty-stricken state and that it will be more than likely to pass on to the account holder again.

ATM? Another Trick by Microsoft (…along with the banks).

Originally posted: ATMs Open to Hacking



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