Danger Will Robinson!! ATMs Migrating to Windows

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By Martin Iturbide

There had been a lot of articles on the web this days about the ATM market migrating from OS/2 to Windows, and that not new. We have seen companies like Wincor Nixdorf and Diebold start supporting Windows with their hardware, so all of us had been warned about that. I want to be clear with my point of view here. I think that migrating from OS/2 to Windows is the most stupid thing that can be done to an ATM Machine. The banks are allowing a big security risks, they are going to increase their operative expenses and for sure this is going to impact the ATM users (the bank clients).

Windows is not (clearly NOT) an OS with high security standards. Everybody has suffer the Microsoft security holes on their Window PC and it is for sure that ATM machines are not going to be free of them. From time to time ATMs will get new virus, trojan horses, security exploits, etc, etc. Just how much time are we going to wait until a new "Blaster" virus came out and infect a whole Windows ATM network ? It is true that many Banks with Windows ATMs had been infected with Virus and there are examples in the market. In just minutes a complete 120 Windows ATMs network can stop working thanks to the virus that uses Netbeui and TCP/IP protocols and exploits Microsoft bugs.

Why IT people loves Windows? The answer is clear. It is so unstable that it will guaranty the IT department work on the bank. The banks IT ATM support teams are going to be increased by using an unstable, buggy and risky OS. Banks are going to waste more money on the daily operation of this ATM. It will be needed an Anti virus on every ATM and the worst of all the banks will have to patch Windows every two months to have a piece of mind with the security holes, activities that are not needed commonly with OS/2.

What about the ATM users?. Now common ATM users will have to worry about another thing while you take out cash. Is the ATM going to crash this time? Many of us has seen the result of using Windows on kiosks and arcade games - Imminent CRASH !!. I have never seen and 24/7 working Windows kiosk. I had been in the Airport of "Santiago de Chile" waiting for my fly and watching how the technician came to reboot kiosk after kiosk in the airport halls. I had also seen complete useless Windows Arcade games inside the video games saloon (well I'm a gaming addict also) showing the screen of death. How is putting Windows on ATMs going to impact the credibility of the Bank and the customer service?

Even if banks are going to use the "IBM will stop OS/2 support on 2006" card to migrate, common sense will bring them to other idea. Why getting out from a proprietary OS to get into another?

So, after this article the last question remains. Are Banks IT departments that dumb ?

PD: I'm sure that many Banks IT departments had thought about all the implications of using Windows on ATM Machines, possible we are just getting hype on this subject from the computer news related sources and if not nearly on the future we will have job migrating ATM machines back to OS/2 or to another OS.

Martin Iturbide


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ATM Companies

  • Wincor Nixdorf
  • Diebold