Most bank ATMs run on Windows XP, but Microsoft says they about to stop their tech support for that 12-year-old system, leaving the machines, and people's money, hot targets for hackers.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
People are usually in a hurry running up to the ATM, and they probably never think about the computer inside that spits out their cash.
But most bank ATMs are run on one operating system - Windows XP. Microsoft says they're about to stop their tech support for that 12-year-old system, leaving the machines, and people's money, more vulnerable.
Account information and pin numbers are some of the most personal information people have, and when they step up to an ATM, people expect it to be kept safe.
"I want to make sure that my information is not being compromised, with the hackers not being able to get into the ATMs," said one ATM customer, Tanya Wilson.
But starting April 8, hackers will have one more advantage.
Ninety-five percent of bank ATMs run on the Windows XP operating system. Now that Microsoft is cutting off tech support for that system, cyber experts at Depth Security say that opens the door for more security flaws to slip in.
Jake Reynolds, a partner at Depth Security, says hackers could, "infect Windows XP with malicious software that would allow them to skim card numbers as people do ATM transactions."
If that happened right now, Microsoft would send out a security fix users can download, but that ends April 8.
Of the major banks, Wells Fargo told KCTV5 News on Wednesday that they are upgrading their ATMs now to a new operating system.
CNN Money reports Citibank is too, and Chase banks bought a one-year extension. Bank of America did not return calls for comment.
Locally, Arvest Bank told KCTV5 News that they are prepared for the transition and don't expect any problems.
"It's not like all of a sudden, April 8, all the world's ATMs are going to be hacked," Reynolds said.
Reynolds also said there are back-up security systems in place, and ATMs aren't as vulnerable because they're not connected to the web.
Plus if all else fails, it is the bank on the hook, not consumers.
"My ATM's been hacked before and they shut it off right away. I'm not too worried about it," said ATM user Jeffery Jenkins.
It's not just ATMs. All kinds of systems, like pay-at-the-pump gas pumps, could be affected too, and of course that includes personal computers.
If you still have Windows XP, you'll want to upgrade, to the next version of Windows, or another operating system.
Microsoft says that's the point, it's time to start focusing their resources on newer technology, and get people upgraded.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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