A Critical Deadline Is Approaching to Replace Your Windows Server 2003.

The countdown to July 14, 2015, is on. That’s the rapidly-approaching date when Microsoft ends support for its popular Windows Server 2003.

Has your bank upgraded to new servers yet? Lots of banks haven’t. Analysts are predicting that many businesses will ignore the deadline and continue operating with the familiar and stable Windows Server 2003. But the consequences could be very serious.

So far, whenever a software “vulnerability” in Windows Server 2003 has been discovered, Microsoft has promptly developed and issued a “patch” to fix it—cutting off the opportunity for hackers to use that defect to gain unauthorized access to a bank’s information. After July 14, 2015, hackers may continue to discover vulnerabilities in Microsoft Server 2003—with the difference that Microsoft will no longer be developing “patches.” As vulnerabilities discovered after that date go unpatched, and increasing numbers of hackers learn of those vulnerabilities, a bank’s security risks will surely increase. Banks cannot afford to take these risks at a time when large-scale cyber-attacks are weekly front-page news.

And there’s another side to the problem: For bankers, regulatory risks often may be more of a concern than security risks. Regulators require banks to use only currently-supported software. Any bank using Microsoft Server 2003 after July 14 will be “out of compliance” and subject to regulatory criticism.

The logistics of updating a bank’s servers must also be considered: If a bank waits too long to act, there may be a delivery backlog for new servers. More importantly, after these servers arrive a bank’s I.T. department will still have a lengthy process to update the bank’s systems. Many companies are still running older applications that may not be supported in newer systems. I.T. staffs will be forced to consider every piece in the bank’s technology puzzle, to determine how it will fit into the new operating system. Technical staff also must design a process for implementing the new solutions without disrupting the flow of normal bank business.

If your bank has Windows Server 2003 still in place, you should begin planning now to get the changes made before the deadline. There could be a very substantial investment required for new servers, so it’s also a good time for bankers to consider alternate strategies: Is I.T. something the bank wants to continue to manage in-house, or instead could the bank benefit by using an experienced third-party provider, improving efficiency and capabilities while also freeing the bank to focus more time on key business lines?

A good solution for banks to consider is Bankers Private Cloud® from BankOnIT. This cloud-computing solution provides in one service both the servers and the technical resources that banks need to operate efficiently and securely. When banks buy technology in the cloud, they no longer need to make large capital expenditures for equipment—and they also build in flexibility for the bank’s technology systems to change and grow as demands and needs evolve over time.