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Rediff.com  » Business » Windows XP support ends: Here's how to protect your bank accounts

Windows XP support ends: Here's how to protect your bank accounts

April 10, 2014 10:03 IST

Windows XP support ends: Here's how to protect your bank accounts

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

According to sources in the banking sector, banks have been working on the issue for some time and the transition was set into motion in a phased manner, notes Vicky Nanjappa

There are nearly 34,000 bank branches in India which rely on Windows XP and with the XP support coming to an end on Thursday, they are exposed to a number of risks.

Many in the banking sector, however, say that there should not be any problem as most of the machines run on newer variants of XP.

There remain some bottlenecks though, say experts.

Banking services can be hit as there is expected to be a delay of 30 minutes in every transaction now.

Although the support officially came to an end on April 8, it spilled over till Thursday.

From Friday, it will be non-existent.

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Image: Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8.
Photographs: Reuters

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According to sources in the banking sector, banks have been working on the issue for some time and the transition was set into motion in a phased manner.

Most of the banks, therefore, are safe now.

However, there could be some issues with very old automated teller machines especially in the rural areas where the upgradation is yet to be completed.

In case of non-upgradation, the major problem would be a delay in transactions.

Problems could occur where biometrics are used as there will be no XP support for the same.

This, in turn, would lead to manual verification at banks which would translate into longer queues at the tellers.

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Image: Bill Gates.
Photographs: Reuters
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About 100,000 ATM machines in the country that continue to run on XP will be hit the most.

Experts are of the opinion that the problem may not be as severe as it seems, but gradually all the machines will need to be updated to a newer version of the software.

The ATMs will continue to run as usual, but they won’t have security patches released by Microsoft.
Cyber security experts also say that there may not be any immediate chance of a bug affecting the ATMs.

However, some machines could slow down.

Banks are required to fix the issue sooner and need to finish upgradation as quickly as possible.

Unless that is done, the ATMs stand the chance of getting exposed to a hacker in the long run.

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Image: About 100,000 ATM machines in the country that continue to run on XP will be hit the most.
Photographs: Mohammed Ameen/Reuters

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As a customer, one would need to be more vigilant and watch his/her accounts closely, say experts.

One should change one’s ATM personal identification number regularly, must use separate PINs and passwords for different accounts.

A close monitoring of all banking activities are essential now.

In case of any fishy transaction, the bank has to be intimated immediately.

The banks send out an assurance that there will be a safety window at all times.

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Image: A customer uses his card to withdraw money from an ATM in Jammu.
Photographs: Amit Gupta/Reuters
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Vulnerabilities existed even when the XP support was there and various steps used to be taken to ensure the safety of customers’ accounts.

We understand that in the long run there could be issues if the machines are not upgraded, but the process of updating will be over soon, said a bank official.

In the urban areas, most of the systems have the latest variants.

However, in the rural areas, the banks will need to act more swiftly and complete the process.

The expected time for the same is one month.

Now that the Windows XP is no more, the banks can’t afford to rely on a third party to get this support, the official added.

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Image: A man counts money after withdrawing it from an ATM.
Photographs: Amit Gupta/Reuters
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