In a note sent to all banks and ATM operators, the Reserve Bank of India said that it was about time to move past Windows XP on ATMs. Citing a confidential advisory in 2017 to upgrade to newer operating systems, the RBI said, “The slow progress on the part of the banks in addressing these issues has been viewed seriously by the RBI.”
The central banker said that in addition to harming consumers, a breach because of unsupported operating systems could make banks look bad. The advisory doesn’t name Windows XP, but it’s the most common OS that is no longer supported by its developer that ATMs still run on.
Windows XP hasn’t been supported by Microsoft since 2014, a deadline that the company had announced well in advance. Even so, around 95% of ATMs in the US were still running on XP that year. Four years on, many Indian ATMs still run XP.
There are a little over 2 lakh ATMs in India as of this April, according to the RBI. Banks usually guard many of these machines with a booth, CCTV cameras, and security guards. News of ATM theft crop up around half a dozen times a month, which comes out to at least under a hundred ATMs being targeted for robbery.
Not many of these robberies are done by hacking the operating systems that run on the machines — that’s difficult to pull off without dismantling the heavy fortification that surrounds most ATMs. Then again, a number of cash dispensers running on an operating system shy of two decades old is a cause for concern for both banks and their consumers.