Microsoft to stop support for the
operating system used by Irelands ATMs.
In case you didn’t already know, Microsoft will withdraw support for Windows XP next month. There are thousands of business and personal computers still using the system because it has proven to be a very stable and user friendly platform.
However it still depends on upgrades and patches from Microsoft to function correctly, so by withdrawing its support in April, this could pose security and technical problems for users.
What I didn’t realise until last weekend was that all of the banks in Ireland use XP for their ATM’s as well as many businesses for their points-of-sale systems.
A recent report in the Sunday Business Post carried some comments from Professor Mike Hinchey, head of Legro engineering research centre at the University of Limerick.
He said that all of the ATMs in Ireland, and most of the ATMs in the world still use XP. He went on to ad that if every bank tries to support it themselves, we’re going to end up in a situation where they will all have different errors and we’ll have ATMs down and out of service.
His comments suggest that our precious cash dispensing machines could be unavailable for several hours causing serious problems for people. So to could points-of-sales systems in retail outlets.
In his view, with just 4 weeks to go before Windows removes its support for XP, it’s too late for banks and retail outlets to upgrade to Windows 7 or another operating system.
Microsoft gave ample notice to everyone that it was going to ‘pull the plug’ on XP, which is why it’s bizarre that banks in particular have not got their systems upgraded yet.
Bank of Ireland commented that it had applied “appropriate controls to mitigate this risk”.
AIB is understood to be investigating its upgrade options.
Hinchey went on to say that “Upgrading to Windows 7 isn’t a simple process. It needs to be planned and you have to test the software”. He also pointed out that the upgrading process needed to be carried out in an organised manner otherwise doing it in an ad hoc basis would leave room for error.
The Lero head pointed out that upgrading was also more than just avoiding problems down the road. It can lead to additional benefits to banks and their customers. This he said was evident in the US, where banks have put in more functionality, better user interfaces, and better security.
So the next time you can’t get cash from an ATM or pay for your goods in a shop, don’t be surprised. You have been warned.
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