Simon Willison’s Weblog


Why run Windows on an ATM?

26th November 2003

So you’re writing the software for an ATM. It needs to display something pretty on the screen, control the hardware that serves out the money and talk securely to your central servers. It also needs to be stable, secure, reliable and allow remote administration. Why on earth would you choose Windows as the operating system?

Check out this article on The Register: Nachi worm infected Diebold ATMs. This just beggars belief. How a Windows worm spread on to a network with ATMs connected to it is beyond me—even if you take in to account employee laptops plugged in behind the firewall it’s still incredible that the ATMs weren’t on their own separate secure network.

Here’s the best bit:

Billett defended the company’s patching process, which he said involves testing each new bug fix, and deploying at a wide variety of institutions with a mix of network architectures. “A lot of those machines actually have to be visited by a service technician” to be patched, said Billett. “Our experience in the past is we are able to turn those around in one or two days.”

What do you have to do to patch these things, plug in a keyboard and mouse?

This is Why run Windows on an ATM? by Simon Willison, posted on 26th November 2003.

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