April 8, 2014, is the last day of support for Windows XP, as Microsoft bids farewell to the antiquated operating system (OS). As of Tuesday, XP users will receive their final updates and security patches, according to Information Week. With major banks using Windows XP, especially at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), does this lack of support pose a threat when withdrawing cash or foreign currency while traveling abroad?
Information Week reports that XP still had over twice as many users as the current Windows 8/8.1 OS. With large banks relying on older equipment, many have not upgraded. However, some institutions have signed on for additional support through 2015. Also, those systems with Microsoft Security Essentials already installed will continue to receive updated malware and virus support.
In addition to ongoing support from Microsoft, bank ATMs may not be at a huge risk because ATMs are fairly secure terminals without access to outside Internet connections, according to Information Week. Although there are documented flaws in ATMs which could expose them to cyber-attackers, a report in the Washington Post says a majority of ATMs run a variation of XP called 'Windows Embedded,' designed for stand-alone machines. Windows Embedded will continue to be supported by Microsoft until 2016.
With security experts advising the banking industry, many banks are prepared for the end of Windows XP. However, it seems that older ATMs are at the greatest risk because they are unable to receive updates. So the best advice for travelers is from Information Week: avoid any ATM which looks old or out of date, such as those in convenience stores or on the street. Bank facilities are most-likely to have newer, more updated equipment.