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eThinker Newsletter September 2017 

    This is disheartening, At the same time the business and technology world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ATM, a security expert was pointing out a fatal flaw that could force the machine to dump out all the cash. What is worse, when the manufacturer was warned about it, the company decided it wasn't worth fixing.
     This tidbit emerged from BlackHat 2017, an annual conference for researchers, hackers, and anyone close to the world of security to gather and learn from one another. During one of the panel discussions, IOActive researchers hauled out an Opteva model ATM from Diebold Nixdorf, plugged a netbook into the exposed USB port, and added in code to the ATM's Automatic Funds Distributor—a bot in the embedded system that determines how much money to release. The machine obligingly spit out all of its cash.
     Mike Davis, the director of embedded systems security at IOActive, said he alerted Diebold Nixdorf to the issue, but the company "didn't consider it enough of a security issue to address," as it was not located near the part of the ATM where the cash is stored, and therefore was not a concern.
     A spokewoman for Diebold Nixdorf had a different explanation: The machine that was hacked was built in 2008 or 2009, and never received security patches or maintenance.
     Oh, like that never happens.
     Systems security is serious business. The BlackHat hackers are plying their craft to expose the weaknesses, but there are many more out who merely want to exploit them. If you have concerns about your own security, give us a call.


Paul Fountas
MicroComputer Resources, Inc.
Windows 10 Will Run on Pocket-Sized PC
    Get ready for the Sirius A, the desktop PC which is so small it can fit in your pocket, but is still powerful enough to hold the full desktop version of Windows 10. The midget computer can be plugged into a monitor, mouse and keyboard so you can actually do something with it.
     It's a bit more limited on the road, with only a six-inch screen and a battery that provides up to three hours of "casual use." However, if you have your peripherals on hand, there is no better way to take your work home with you.
     Besides the bundled Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS, the Serius A includes 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. It begins shipping in November.

Putting Today's Tech in Perspective

    Ever wonder how far technology has advanced in the past half century? Blogger Brad DeLong breaks it down by calculating what it could have cost, in money and material, to produce the equivalent of the 256 GB memory iPhone X. He calculates that in 1957, the technology would have:
  • cost 150 trillion of today's dollars: one and a half times today's global annual product
  • taken up a hundred-story square building 300 meters high, and 3 kilometers long and wide
  • drawn 150 terawatts of power--30 times the world's current generating capacity
    All that for something now priced at about a grand which you can carry around in your pocket.
    How is that possible? A huge difference between then and now is the transistors, which would have had to be replaced by heat-generating vacuum tubes, an estimated 2.5 trillion of them, costing about $8 each--and that doesn't  take into account the rampant inflation since 1957.
    Check here for the actual breakdown. Then marvel at the technology that is today at your fingertips.

In This Issue
Windows 10 Will Run on Pocket-Sized PC

Putting Today's Tech in Perspective

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Tips and Tricks
Smartphone cameras get better each year, to the point that it can be your only camera. TechRepublic videoblogger Jason Hines shows you how to use your phone to take professional photos that your business can use for marketing and more.
Fun Facts
Money doesn't grow on trees, but it does seem to grow on the walls and ceiling of the Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer, Alaska. A dive bar that has become the town's biggest tourist draw, its decor consists of thousands of dollar bills, signed and left by patrons over more than half a century in business.
Quotable Quotes
"Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed."
-- Abraham Lincoln
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"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history -- with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."