By : Alastair Hogben
December 19, 2017 08:00 AM
For any business, the process of upgrading IT equipment to the latest versions needs to be a priority, but this is especially true for the financial services sector. With the potential consequences of continuing to run outdated and unsupported operating systems so high, especially in devices such as ATMs, businesses cannot afford to get left behind.
Yet this is the situation many financial services providers find themselves in right now. The clock is ticking for banks that still rely on Windows 7 for their key systems, as Microsoft will end support for this operating system on January 14th 2020.
This is a lot closer than you may think, particularly if you have a large, sprawling network of devices and systems to upgrade. Migration can be a lengthy and complex process, so it's essential that companies start the process now, if they haven't already.
Why banks need to act now
The longer financial institutions put off their migration plans, the more likely they are to fail to complete the process before the deadline. If banks are still running unsupported operating systems after this date, they will be exposed to a wide range of issues.
First and foremost, unsupported operating systems do not benefit from security patches to fix newly-discovered vulnerabilities. This means any holes discovered after the cut-off date can easily be exploited by hackers that gain access to valuable systems.
This can result in significant financial and reputational damage if breaches occur, in the form of fines and loss of trust. Other issues such as older systems failing to meet PCI compliance requirements may also result in financial penalties.
Putting a plan in place
The biggest danger facing many banks when it comes to migrating their systems may well be complacency. For many, 2020 may sound like a long way away, but given the complexity of the process, especially for larger networks, there is no time to waste. Projects of this nature can easily take between 12 and 18 months to complete, any further delays now run the risk of missing the end-of-support deadline.
Therefore, having a clear plan in place for the migration is a must. This should start with a thorough evaluation and audit of the existing network to determine which devices require upgrades - something that can in itself be very time-consuming if banks do not have the right management tools to give them full visibility into their network.
As banks work through the various stages of a migration, from initial testing and implementation to full deployment, it's vital they have support from knowledgeable technology partners to help them make the right decisions and ensure the process goes ahead as smoothly as possible.
More than just guarding against threats
While the move to Windows 10 will ensure that financial institutions will continue to benefit from security patches and other updates to keep their systems protected, migrations should be seen as much more than guarding against potential vulnerabilities. It should also be viewed as an opportunity to embrace the latest technology and keep up with innovation in the industry.
Migrating to the latest operating systems enables banks to modernize their systems and support branch transformation solutions such as the latest self-service tools to improve the user experience.
It may also help organizations integrate technology such as Internet of Things smart sensors, biometrics and contactless technologies into their ATM fleets. With Windows 10 set for a ten-year life cycle, this can ensure that banks are well set up for many years to come.