Banks on unsupported Windows Server 2003 still

Banks and a major live-chat service are still using the now-unsupported server platform, according to survey findings.

Bank vault door
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Major British bank Natwest, Australia’s ANZ and Grupo Bancolombia are among the banks still using Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0 on their main websites, according to a recent Netcraft web server survey.

IIS was formerly called Internet Information Server.

Netcraft is a United Kingdom-based Internet security company and researcher.

No support

Netcraft found, in July, that 600,000 servers were still running the no-longer supported platform Windows Server 2003. Microsoft ended support in mid-July which means it will no longer issue security updates.

Netcraft made its announcement last week.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) warns that “unsupported installations of Windows Server 2003 are exposed” to an elevated risk of cybersecurity dangers, like “malicious attacks or electronic data loss,” according to Netcraft's website.

Millions of websites

The over-half-million server figure would translate to millions of websites being at risk.

Usually, a server hosts more than one website and Netcraft calculates the total number of websites that are served from Windows Server 2003 computers is a massive 175 million. All-in-all Netcraft calculates that a fifth of the Internet is still running the old and unsupported platform—one who’s last major update, Service Pack 2, was released eight years ago.


The most prominent web property noted in the survey still using the 12-year old platform on the Internet is Natwest, the U.K.'s largest retail bank with 1,600 physical branches, 7.4 million personal customers and 850,000 small business accounts.

LivePerson, a real-time live chat solution for customers to talk to sales and support staff, also appears to still use it, as of July.


In addition to the 175 million websites still running Windows Server 2003, a further 1.7 million sites are running unsupported Microsoft IIS/6.0, according to Netcraft.

Dutch Bank ING Direct, and French Banque et Assurances - Caisse d'Epargne are still using unsupported IIS 6.0, but not on directly exposed, Internet-facing Windows Server 2003 machines.

Security firms Panda Security and eScan were also found to be running IIS 6.0 on public-facing sites, according to Netcraft.

Backend exploitable

According to Netcraft, it has found numerous “back-end Windows Server 2003 machines behind load balances and similar devices that are not running Windows.”

But, “although the Windows Server 2003 machine is not directly exposed to the Internet, it may still be possible for a remote attacker to exploit certain Windows and IIS vulnerabilities.


Although Netcraft’s Web Server Survey July, 2015—which is where these numbers come from—counts hostnames rather than physical computers, the company says its numbers are an accurate measure of the number of servers.

Hosting companies can run thousands of sites on a single computer, but because of the way Netcraft counts packets returned from IP addresses, it can tell if the packets originate from the same computer, it says.


Therefore, among other things, it knows the “number of unique computers that act as web servers” and that its numbers—609,000 web-facing computers running Windows Server 2003—are correct.

In addition to the aforementioned banks, “hundreds of other banking sites” also appear to be still using the no longer updated Windows Server 2003,” Netcraft says on its website.

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