Over 70 per cent of Automated Teller Machines owned and operated by banks in the country, which are currently running on the Windows XP operating system, are exposed to frauds as Microsoft has foreclosed the extension of the deadline for cyber security support for the banks.
Microsoft had on April 8 stopped offering cyber security and technical support for the Windows XP, following a year’s notice.
Banks in the country have been discussing with Microsoft Nigeria for a possible extension of the deadline.
The Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Kabelo Makwane, however, told our correspondent in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the American company would not grant any extension to banks in the country.
Makwane, who spoke through the Country Chief Technology Officer of the company, Mr. Olayinka Oni, said Microsoft was in advance discussions with the banks to get them migrated to the Windows 8 operating system.
He said, “The reality is that we cannot grant a country by country extension for technical support. So, for a specific country by country extension, it is not possible. It is not possible for Nigeria too because you are tapping into the same general global support.
“Typically, when we release an operating system, it is with a support with software assurance for five years. Then, we do an extended support for another five years. So, within the range of 10 years, you will see where we actually have support for a particular OS. In this instance, Windows XP has been there for 12 years, so it is even above the normal life support that we do for an OS.”
Makwane said Microsoft had been encouraging the banks to migrate because the level of cyber crimes currently existing in the globe was beyond the capabilities of Windows XP, hence the need to migrate quickly.
According to him, the cyber security vulnerabilities in Windows XP have been taken care of in Windows 7 and Windows 8, which banks are being encouraged to migrate to.
“The reality is that the cyber security threats that exist today are far beyond the capabilities of Windows XP. Getting banks migrated is not for selfish interest but, ultimately for the benefit of the end users,” he said.
The Microsoft boss noted the deadline was not peculiar to Nigeria.
In order to protect its customers globally from fraud and other cyber threats, Makwane said Microsoft was already selling custom-support to companies in Europe and other parts of the world pending when they would complete the migration process.
He said banks in Nigeria were already in discussion with Microsoft on how they could purchase the custom-support to protect their ATMs’ Windows XP pending when they would carry out the migration.
Makwane, however, said, “We do not want to encourage the banks to remain in the custom-support for a long time. The reality is that the cyber security threat that exists today is far beyond the capabilities of Windows XP. Getting banks migrated is not for selfish interest but for the benefit of the end users.
“The reality is that all of the ATMs in Nigeria run on Microsoft Windows OS. About 30 per cent of that is actually running on Windows 7, which is fully supported right now. So, you are probably looking at 70 per cent of that still running on Windows XP.
“But obviously, we are in conversations with them on how they can get custom-extended support, while they think through the implementation plan in getting modern.”
The Chairman, Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads, Mr. Chuks Iku, had last Wednesday said Microsoft Nigeria had directed banks to migrate to the improved platform, which, he noted would allow for enhanced banking benefits and security.