Windows XP finally reached its end-of-life this April (2014), after which Microsoft ceases to release bug fixes for the operating system. If you’ve upgraded your PC then everything should be fine – but what about your bank? Have they upgraded?
The Risk Isn’t Necessarily With You
Have you upgraded from Windows XP yet? If not, you can easily choose from several different options; Windows 7, Windows 8 or even Linux. While it is important to ensure your home computer system is as up to date as possible, it is also important that the companies you do business with are also suitably secure.
Sadly, this hasn’t been happening. For various reasons (usually cost) a vast number of businesses have been spending time burying their heads in the sand rather than coming to terms with the fact that their systems have suddenly become a lot less secure since Microsoft withdrew support for Windows XP.
Although corporate security support has been extended to April 2015 – only in the UK, this still doesn’t give businesses who haven’t yet made the necessary upgrades an awful lot of time to purchase and roll out new hardware running Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or even Mac OS X. While you might have taken steps to upgrade, the Windows XPocalypse has wider ramifications.
Among these are the customer-facing systems running on Windows XP, the ATMs especially, and its continued presence represents an open door to digital criminals.
ATMs: Stay Away!
If you visit ATMs to make withdrawals, you likely do so from a system running Windows XP. If you’ve ever seen one of these machines crash or reboot, you’ll know that behind the simple set of options Windows XP is hiding. Once upon a time it was providing security against intrusion from sophisticated hackers; these days, its presence is arguably as big a headache as the breaches it once helped to prevent.
ATMs running Windows XP are rife for exploitation and should be avoided.
Avoid withdrawing money from an ATM by doing so over the counter at your bank. You might consider using point of sale cashback services too. This is not very popular in Nigeria though.
A rule of thumb should be to avoid these at all costs. If you can’t, it is worth being prepared by setting up a separate ATM card with a low balance.
Windows XP: The New Millennium Bug?
15 years ago, the IT world worked itself into a frenzy as it fought to combat the effects of the so-called Millennium Bug (aka Y2K problem) – an issue with the way computers calculate the date that was set to cause chaos come January 1st 2000 (or 1900, if the bug had its way). Although there was plenty of time to prepare for this, many businesses waited until the last few months to apply a fix.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the situation is recognisable, if not identical. Home users are largely protected but businesses seem to have ignored the many warnings issued by Microsoft about Windows XP going end-of-life and the implications of this. The push to get domestic users onto Windows 7 and Windows 8 has been slow, but it would seem that even if you upgraded tomorrow, your bank and other institutions handling sensitive data would still be running XP, with the impending security failings this will bring.
As such, you need to be careful where and how you use credit and debit card. As a rule of thumb, if you’re attempting to use the card at an exposed location, you should already be cautious of the risks. With unsecured Windows XP installations now providing an added threat, automated payment solutions should be avoided.
Culled from Makeuseof