Microsoft Windows XP on the way out, PSU banks face security risks

Microsoft XPAuthorities are aware of the risk of continuing with Windows XP, as evident in a memo issued by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team on June 25.

Microsoft on Tuesday said that there are just 100 working days to go before it stops supporting Windows XP, its 12-year-old operating system. Around 30 per cent of computers used by businesses still run Windows XP and after April 8, 2014, no anti-virus software will be able to protect these, Microsoft said.

In India, PSU banks and financial institutions face the largest risk, as many of them run Windows XP on around 40 to 70 per cent of their computers, according to a Microsoft-funded study conducted by Ascentius Consulting. According to the report, 34,115 PSU bank branches face a security threat due to their reliance on Windows XP.

Amrish Goyal, Microsoft India's general manager of Windows Business Group, said that many of the 45 Indian banks using XP have shown little intent to switch completely to Windows 7 or 8.1. "State Bank of India has around 1.35 lakh PCs still running Windows XP and they are looking to upgrade these. The good thing is that around 40 to 50 per cent of their computers are running Windows 7," Goyal told The Indian Express.

However, some banks have been proactively upgrading their computers. For instance, Goyal said, Indian Bank has completed migration to Windows 7 and Canara Bank is about to finish it soon. The banks that do not upgrade will face heavy maintenance costs. An IDC report titled 'Risks of Staying with Windows XP: The Financial and Business Imperative' says that the cost of support for Windows XP machines post the end of support deadline could be as high as $300 (Rs 19,000) per PC, as opposed to $95 (Rs 6,000) for upgrading to a newer OS. Upgrade cost is even low for PSU banks till January as Microsoft is offering around 50 per cent discounts for upgrades to Windows 7, apart from assistance with migrating vital software and hardware to support modern operating systems.

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