What about all those cash machines running Windows XP?

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Leo, I’m an independent computer tech and, as you advise, I’ve been advising all of my customers that their XP systems will be risky to run on the internet after Microsoft drops support for XP in April. However, I just read in Time magazine that 95% of all ATM machines are based on Windows XP. Does this mean that ATM machines are at a high risk of hacking after Microsoft ends support?

Frankly, if I was a hacker, and I’d found a hole in XP that I could exploit at ATMs I’d be really tempted to wait until after Microsoft support ends to use it. Then I could keep using it as well. The vulnerability might have already been discovered and is just waiting for the right day to be used. How can I protect myself? Should I try to shut down ATM access to my accounts and is this even possible?

I was as surprised as you are to hear that such a high percentage of ATMs are using Windows XP. After giving it some thought, I think the problem probably goes a little bit deeper than that. But I don’t think you and I really need to do anything just yet.

Banks, on the other hand, should definitely be on the alert.

Read moreWhat about all those cash machines running Windows XP?

Should I take the security protection offered after the most recent security breach?

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What is the current status of a company that wants to offer security protection for your credit card purchase and your identity? Is it “Target” initiated?

Target, a retail chain in the United States, is the company whose security was breached recently in a fairly massive theft of account information from their customers. Unfortunately, this gets really complicated really quickly. Compromised companies like Target try to do the right thing for their customers, but of course there’s always somebody who wants to come along and take further advantage of the situation.

Read moreShould I take the security protection offered after the most recent security breach?

Should I provide my credit card to sites that are free?

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Most of us know that there ain’t no Santa Claus, especially on the internet. However, there are numerous 100% free sites on the internet. All you have to do to access these sites is  provide your credit card information so that they may charge you at some point for your 100% free services. Any insights you might have about free services would be appreciated.

Personally, I don’t consider that free at all. My credit card information is valuable to me and I won’t give it out for something that purports to be free.

When in doubt, always assume anything that says free but requires a credit card is a scam.

Nonetheless, there are some semi-legitimate scenarios where giving your credit card information is the right thing to do.

Read moreShould I provide my credit card to sites that are free?