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WannaCry ransomware: Indian banks told to update ATM software

15 May 2017  |  7281 views  |  5 atm

In the wake of the global WannaCry ransomware cyberattacks, the Reserve Bank of India has told the country's Windows XP-loving banks to run software updates, according to local press reports.

The WannaCry ransomware began infecting computers running Microsoft Windows on Friday and has already infected more than 200,000 machines in 150 countries, demanding Bitcoin ransom payments from victims including parts of the UK's National Health Service and FedEX in the US.

The ransomware uses an exploit developed by the US National Security Agency and is a particular threat to older operating systems such as Windows XP, which are no longer supported by Microsoft.

According to the Times of India, this has prompted the RBI to tell India's banks "not to operate ATM machines until updates are in place". However, while some ATMs have been shut down, a central bank spokesperson has since denied it has issued such an order, telling India Today that banks are simply being advised to run the updates.

Back in 2013, Microsoft warned that the Indian banking industry's reliance on Windows XP could put more than 34,000 branches at risk when support for the operating system ended. Yet, in February India's finance minister said that over 70% of ATMs were still running on XP.

Comments: (5)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 16 May, 2017, 11:30

The risk to Indian ATMs is exaggerated. Ever since demonetization in Nov. 2016, they've hardly had much cash to worry about.

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Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - FIS Payments Software and Services India - India | 16 May, 2017, 12:05

Time has come that, banks in India can take page of learning from Sweden where in vendor agnostic software is getting deployed to wipte out more than 20 different version of ATM software by common technology platform SIX.

Ofcourse, project has just begain with Two big banks Credit Suisse and UBS and more to follow but prospects are good.

India has bigger challenge which SIX  as well as biometric Authentication version of EMV kind of initative can take care i.e. making ATMs Aadhaar enabled for Card less ATM transactions in terms of ATM software and back end authentication upgrade.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 19 May, 2017, 14:24

Hitesh, you've made some very interesting points. To clarify, the country migrating to a common platform is Switzerland not Sweden.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 19 May, 2017, 15:54

I haven't used ATMs in Switzerland for a while but, when I last used them, different banks supported different feature sets on their ATM estate. I remember that only UBS ATMs supported cross-border remittance. I wonder how a unified interface for ATMs of all banks will support differentiation by different bank's ATMs. The issue is many more times relevant in India where ATMs have been supporting a very wide of functionality including bill payments, temple donations, train and event ticketing, and so on, for 15+ years. While security is important, I hope they don't throw the baby out with the bathwater by sacrificing bank-specific differentiaton for the sake of security. The last time they did it for online payments by mandating 2FA, it led to so much friction and caused so many failed payments that many people - including me - who were using credit cards for online shopping earlier switched to Cash on Delivery.

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