Windows 10 migration for ATMs: The Microsoft timer ticks again
by Paul Albright, Executive Vice President, Outsource ATM
A few short years ago, most banks and credit unions were breathing a sigh of relief as they completed their final ATM upgrade to Windows 7.
Although migration was not mandatory, discontinued support for the widely used Microsoft Windows XP operating system meant an end to security updates and additional cost for a (temporary) extended support contract.
While end of support might not have been such a big issue in the past, the growing threat of malware and cyberattack has made regular software updates essential for the continued secure operation of ATMs.
The longer an ATM continues on an outdated operating system, the more vulnerable it becomes.
Microsoft sets the timer again
Even as migration to Windows 7 was taking place, ATM software experts warned that the OS was sure to be short-lived. As predicted, Microsoft made the official announcement early last year that Windows 7 extended support will end on Jan. 14, 2020.
As with Windows XP, the end of support for Windows 7 means the discontinuation of regular updates, reviving once again the risks associated with running an unsupported operating system, including:
- The loss of ongoing security patches.
- Greater vulnerability to cyberattacks malware, etc.
- Fees associated with PCI noncompliance.
- A reduction in the overall security of terminals.
However, the news is not all bad. The new operating system, Windows 10, is touted as one of the most advanced and secure systems rleased by Microsoft in many years.
The OS includes built-in security designed to detect and prevent emerging cybersecurity threats.
Additionally, Microsoft is including updates that go beyond the usual background changes in earlier versions of Windows, with the intention of enabling a longer lifespan for this latest OS.
The ATM Industry Association recommends that ATM deployers begin their "2020" migration as soon as possible.
As with Windows 7 migration, financial institutions should immediately undertake the following steps to upgrade their ATMs:
Determine the status of your ATM fleet
Some machines will not support Windows 10, even though they made the transition to Windows 7 with ease. Certain ATM models — including some deployed as recently as 2016 — will require a new computer processor because the existing hardware lacks the horsepower to operate Windows 10.
In some instances, these newer processors are a different size than the old one, and will not even fit into the existing ATM. In other cases, they might now support existing peripherals. Ugh. That means purchasing a new ATM.
Make sure you and your team know which, if any, machines in your fleet are compatible with the new OS.
Establish a timeline and roadmap for implementation
During the Windows 7 migration, banks and credit unions had to wait for manufacturers, processors and networks to complete their certification processes.
Ultimately, this created an inventory backlog nightmare when vendor supply could not keep up with operator demand. It is often best to determine how and when you need locations upgraded before speaking with vendor partners.
Open up lines of communication with ATM suppliers
Once a roadmap is set, banks and credit unions that operate their own terminals should begin speaking with ATM manufacturers and suppliers as soon as possible, in order to coordinate upgrade timelines and determine hardware and software availability.
For financial institutions that have partnered with ATM management or outsourcing companies, communication can be as simple as a phone call or brief meeting, to ensure that compliance upgrades are arranged and on target.
Capitalize on service visits to your ATMs during Windows 10 implementation. Think about other upgrades and changes you could make at the same time to maximize operational efficiency and cardholder convenience.
Right now, January of 2020 seems a long way away. But it's only about 18 months from today, and time flies when it comes to OS migration for an ATM fleet.
In one sense, it's fortunate that the Windows 7 upgrade is a recent memory for many financial institutions and their ATM service providers. Most will clearly recall the plans and concerns that must be addressed … while there's still plenty of time on the Microsoft timer.
Paul Albright has more than 20 years' experience in the payments space, and is executive vice president at Outsource ATM, a full-service ATM management company working with banks and credit unions since 2001.