Even under ideal conditions, the migration to a new operating system (OS) can be a prolonged process. With the end-of-life date for ATMs running Windows 7 quickly approaching, financial institutions (FIs) are being forced to amend migration strategies and budgets to accommodate Windows 10. With no firm dates announced for processing certification and delivery dates for new hardware and upgrade kits 120 days or more out, the Windows 10 migration is shaping up to be a scheduling and budgetary nightmare.
With Microsoft ending support for their current OS every six years, it is not surprising that banks and credit unions are becoming frustrated with having to upgrade software and, in some cases, ATM hardware on a regular basis. Although the ATM industry Association (ATMIA) recently announced a next generation Linux-based OS for ATMs and, at least, some portion of FIs are interested in investing – and possibly waiting for it to be ready rather than upgrading to Windows 10. However, ATMIA’s Linux-based OS has not been tested and certified by processors and is unlikely to be ready by January 14, 2020 when Windows 7 sunsets. And, although Microsoft has announced that extended support will be available for Windows 7, the cost is rumored to be at least $800 per ATM, per year.
Taking ATM Vulnerabilities & New Features into Account
According to the Global Banking & Finance Review, criminals are evolving as fast as the technology that powers ATMs, and FIs must constantly refine their defense strategies to avoid vulnerabilities. Outdated systems are often convenient targets. Any machines still running Windows XP, or Windows 7 after the end-of-life date, without purchasing Microsoft’s extended support option, won’t have the necessary patches and security updates to counter sophisticated attacks.
Among the advanced features available with the new Microsoft OS, Device Guard is among the most anticipated. Operating alongside Windows 10 as a mini-operating system, the new security feature blocks malicious software giving ATMs an extra level of protection. Industry experts also expect Windows 10 will also come with improved customer interfaces, support for contactless smartphone transactions and the ability for FIs to push out targeted marketing messages to ATM users more easily.
Consequently, delaying migrating to Windows 10 may not be the best option for banks and credit unions that want to take full advantage of these new features.
Weighing Upgrade Options
The good news is that Microsoft has recently announced extended support for Windows 7 until 2023, giving FIs a bit more time to decide on the migration path that best fits their needs. However, Microsoft has already announced that they will end support of Windows 10 in 2026. And, security concerns are almost certain to push more PCI DSS updates in the near future.
FIs have a number of migration options available:
- Replacing the ATM Core: Industry experts anticipate ATMs with 64-bit, a minimum 4GB of memory and anything better than an Intel 4th generation or I5 will be able to run the new OS, which can be achieved by replacing the core for some older terminals in the field.
- Purchasing New Machines: While the latest machines are being shipped with the more powerful cores, they are still loaded with Windows 7 with a code that will allow the machine to be upgraded to the latest OS once it is released. However, manufacturers are backed up with new orders for ATMs and upgrade kits, and estimated delivery dates are four months or more.
- Outsourcing the ATM Fleet: This most recent OS migration only highlights the burden of running their own ATMs for FIs. Purchasing new machines or upgrade kits every few years to keep up with changing software, regulations and keeping up with security is only one step in the ongoing ATM compliance game. For banks and credit unions looking for predictable monthly costs, no longer having to worry about upgrades and security, and a compliance guarantee, an ATM outsourcing solution may be the best option.
To learn more about Windows 10 migration, explore upgrade options, and compare the pros and cons of replacing existing terminals, upgrading or outsourcing, download the new white paper available from Star Financial Services, What Financial Institutions Need to Know about Their Windows 10 Migration Options for their ATMs.
Yonas Marcos is the President & CEO of Star Financial Services. Born and raised in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, Yonas came to the U.S. for his college education and graduated from Towson University. In 2007 he founded Star and has grown it into a nationwide financial payment services provider that offers electronic and mobile payments, ATM equipment and processing, ATM branding, ATM outsourcing for financial institutions and mobile event payments. Connect with Yonas via email or on LinkedIn.