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Man cashes from an ATMIf some of your worst, paranoid fears involve slotting your ATM card into your neighbourhood machine and then finding out that, lo and behold, every penny in both your Savings and Checkings accounts has mysteriously vanished without a trace—well, that may just become something to take seriously post April 8th say experts.

For April 8th is the day that Microsoft will stop support service to one of their most popular operating systems in history, Windows XP. While around a third to a quarter of the world’s PCs are estimated to house XP, apparently 95 percent of the world’s 3 million ATM machines run on it.

Microsoft has said that it will continue to support security products through July 2015, however it has apparently issued a warning stating that “the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited.” India’s Reserve Bank (RBI) also issued warnings about the April 8th deadline.

Amrish Goyal Microsoft India General Manager (Windows Business) has been quoted widely saying that the number of ATMs in India needing an upgrade will be higher (as a percentage) than the 35 percent XP installed base amongst computers that proliferate in the financial sector. Other figures put it at around 20 percent. As far as India is concerned, it gets a little confusing as to how many of the country’s 110-140,000 plus machines will be affected.

So, how real a security threat is the XP expiration? According to an article, two researchers at the Chaos Computing Congress in Hamburg showed how they were able to hack into an ATM in an unspecified European country with a methodology specifically suited to cracking XP using only a pen drive and malware which then gave them complete control of the machine.

ZDNet columnist Larry Seltzer says that ATMs are generally protected pretty heavily with firewalls and antimalware so getting into one of them may not be as easy as the hackers in the previous paragraph make it appear to be.

Much like the whole ‘Y2K’ end-of-the-world depiction at the turn of this century, the XP expiry will take some watching to see how things unravel.

-Culled from zdnet.com

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