BSP to Banks: Upgrade ATM software by April 8

MANILA, Philippines–Regulators are set to issue a reminder for local banks to upgrade the software their automated teller machines (ATM) are running to ensure they are shielded from possible security risks.

This comes ahead of the end of support for the nearly 13-year-old Windows XP operating system by its creator, tech giant Microsoft Corp.

“I’m about to issue a reminder to the industry that XP’s service life is ending,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said Wednesday.

“Under our technology risk management framework, banks should be mindful of that. In other words, they should take action to replace their software,” he said. The BSP plans to publish a memorandum for banks regarding ATMs this week, Espenilla said.

Microsoft’s Windows XP, launched in late 2001, was until 2012 the most widely used operating system (OS) for personal computers and other devices in the world. A vast majority of ATMs in the world still run on Windows XP.

Microsoft previously announced that its tech support, which involves frequent updates to fix bugs and address security loopholes, for Windows XP software would come to an end on April 8 of this year.

A report by technology provider NCR Corp., one of the world’s largest ATM suppliers, said 95 percent of the world’s ATMs run on Windows XP and would hence be affected by Microsoft’s move. While the upgrade would mostly involve getting new software, some ATMs, particularly new ones, would have to be replaced to handle the hardware requirements of newer systems.

Several banks abroad have either signed or entered into negotiations for Microsoft to extend support for ATMs running on XP for a fee.

Espenilla said banks that ignore Microsoft’s warning by continuing to run Windows XP on their devices are at risk of being declared as operating in an “unsafe manner.”

Espenilla admitted the migration to newer software would mean a significant albeit non-recurring cost for banks. “But it’s the cost of doing business. It’s their call,” Espenilla said.

Latest data from the BSP showed there were a total of 13,261 ATMs in the country at the end of September 2013.

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