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May 15, 2017

RBI asks Banks to keep ATMs shut till software is updated

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today asked all banks in India to keep their ATMs closed until the machines recieve a Windows update to protect them from the WannaCry ransomeware which is impacting networks across the world.

The directive was in response to the WannaCry ransomware that took down computer systems across the world locking up critical data and demanding bitcoins as ransom for its release.

As ATM machines run on Windows software, they are very vulnerable to WannaCry which could easily attack the systems and networks with the operating system.  In this regard, RBI has asked banks to update specific Windows patches on ATMs urgently. The advice comes as over 60% of ATMs in India run on an outdated version of Windows and hence, are vulnerable to the attack.

However, Microsoft has developed and released a special update for Windows XP although this particular version of its operating system is no longer serviced by the company.

ATM operators, however, say that there is no threat to customer data on money. "The objective of ransomware is to shut down critical information in networks and prevent access to this data." In the case of ATMs there is no data stored in the machine. Neither is there storage of any kind of logic that will block transactions.

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