The Windows XP problem for ATMs and banks – some solutions and questions

The Windows XP support is expected to be coming to an end from April 8, 2014 and this could have a debilitating effect on the operations of banks and ATMs. The Reserve Bank of India has already asked the banks to take steps that are necessary to control the ensuing situation. The apex banking institution of India has stated in a notification issued for the banks that the conclusion of this service could see problems such as increase in the number of virus attacks as well as greater susceptibility of the various operational systems to different forms of the same threat.


Microsoft has decided to bring to an end its patches, which are meant for bugs, as well as various critical updates that are applicable for the operating systems that are a part of the Windows XP package. It is being assumed that bank operating systems that are still operating on Windows XP and the ATMs, which operate on the same platform, could face the various security threats that have been mentioned already. Perhaps one way in which this situation could be avoided is by updating to newer versions of Windows operating system.


The banks in question could also switch to other operating platforms such as Ubuntu. However, one feels that in order for this process to be conducted smoothly the operating officers need to be provided proper training and the powers-that-be need to make sure that the officers are absolutely confident in operating the new set-up so that there is no undue operational problem later on. However, there are other areas where the banks need to look at, especially when it comes to these issues.


One of the most common problems in case of most banks is link failure that hampers not only their day but also that of the accountholders. What is worrisome in such situations is that most of these banks, especially the government owned ones, do not have a systems professional who can deal with these issues in an effective and timely manner. It is perhaps imperative – in fact this should be made mandatory – that every branch has a computer professional who can look after these issues properly and is only concerned with the working of the various computers, which have become essential to the banking system, especially in the urban and semi-urban areas.


This also raises another important question. Were the banks not aware of this development or did they just not bother with it? However, in light of the fact that this is a recent announcement by Microsoft the banks could be given some leeway and one may assume that they would take steps to remedy the situation as much as possible. The major problem, however, will be with banks that are yet to act on this RBI directive. What will happen to the data as well as the money at their disposal? The next question that follows almost immediately is how will their customers feel and what steps will these banks take to address their grievances? What the banks need to realize is that how they address these areas in such trying circumstances could very well decide how their business does in the days ahead.

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