Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) is urging banks that operate on Microsoft operating system to upgrade their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) before April 8, 2014.
Inside every ATM casing is a computer and like all such devices, each one run on an Operating System and Microsofts 12 year old windows XP dominate the ATM market, powering more than 95% of the worlds ATM machines.
A statement issued to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra said, Banks and ATM service providers are therefore in a race against time to upgrade their ATMs before they become hot targets for hackers.
According to GhIPSS, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will cut off technical support for Windows XP, meaning that there will be no security updates to patch holes in Windows XP, leaving those ATMs operating on it to be exposed to a new kind of cyber attacks.
A security updates (or patch) is a piece of software designed to fix problems with a computer programme or its supporting data. This includes fixing security vulnerabilities and other buys improving the usability of performance of the overall system. Security updates help make the ATM less vulnerable to attacks.
Widows 7 Operating System became available in October, 2009 and therefore banks have no excuse but to update their system to avoid exposing their customers to hackers, the statement said.
It noted that the Advanced ATM fleets operating systems in Ghana can be updated remotely over their network whilst older ATMs must be upgraded one by one. ATMs might either have their components upgraded or discarded altogether if they do not have enough computing power (memory) to run the newer OS, windows 7 it added.
GhIPSS warned that banks and ATM service providers who ignore the deadline will continue to function but will become more vulnerable to attacks.
However, Microsoft will continue to release patches that will protect computers running on XP for malware until July 2015 but only for Microsoft security essentials. Users will need to have downloaded Microsoft security essentials before April 8 if they require access, the statement added.
Bank and ATM service providers in Ghana will therefore have to ensure that they comply ahead of the date.