Northwest Savings Bank updating software for ATMs

Some software updates are more important than others.

When the software in question is the operating system for as many as 95 percent of the world’s ATMs, the updates are important.

Northwest Savings Bank announced Monday that it will continue to receive automatic updates for its ATMs as it switches operating systems.

On Tuesday, Microsoft stopped providing automatic updates for Windows XP.

That system is used by an overwhelming majority of the ATMs in the world. Without automatic updates, machines using XP could be vulnerable to infiltration by hackers. Automatic updates provide security upgrades as weaknesses are discovered.

Because of its widespread use, Windows XP enjoyed a longer run – about 15 years – than most Windows operating systems. Microsoft usually supports its systems for about 10 years.

To avoid the problems that go along with an unsupported operating system, Northwest said it negotiated a service package with its provider.

“Over the next few months, Northwest will upgrade all of its ATMs, converting the current Microsoft Windows XP operating system to Microsoft Windows 7,” Northwest’s Assistant Communications Manager Melanie Clabaugh said. “Northwest reached an agreement with its ATM service provider, Diebold Inc., to guarantee the necessary patches and critical support from Microsoft until Windows 7 is installed.”

“We are pleased that Microsoft will continue to provide Northwest’s ATMs with support beyond April 2014,” said Joe Schwind, EFT manager. “Software maintenance and upgrades are a regular part of our business and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that there will be no interruption in service and that our customers’ personal information will remain safe. We have the utmost confidence in our service provider and expect a seamless transition to Windows 7.”

First Niagara Bank did not elaborate on its handling of the situation or whether or not its ATMs used XP, but assured customers that their information is secure.

“We continually update our systems with the latest technology to ensure the safety and security of our customer information,” sand David Lanzillo, senior vice president corporate communications. “As a matter of policy, we do not publicly disclose details of the controls we use to assure information security.”