The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Just Try to Rob This ATM

Get Peppered Spray For Your Trouble

1 min read
Just Try to Rob This ATM

ATMs have become a very lucrative target for thieves, with some $200 million fraudulently taken per year from them in the US alone. Thieves use a variety of means to steal from ATMs; some use using binoculars, cell phone cameras or video cameras to steal PIN numbers, while others buy and then install bogus ATM machines (or just skimmers) to steal both a person's ATM card and the PIN number.

Other thieves are more direct: they pull ATMs out of the wall or use explosives to access their contents. In fact, in South Africa, the London Guardianreports,

"The number of cash machines blown up with explosives has risen from 54 in 2006 to 387 in 2007 and nearly 500 last year."

In an effort to deter ATM fraud, the bank Absa, the largest retail bank in South Africa, is piloting an ATM that will spray you with pepper spray if you tries to tamper with it in some way or it's camera detects someone trying to plant explosives, as well as automatically notify the authorities the Guardian story also says. So far, 11 ATMs have been outfitted with pepper spray there.

There are still a few kinks needed to be worked out, however.

Three technicians performing routine maintenance on the ATM got accidentally sprayed and required medical help a few weeks back. No customers got hurt, but the spray drifted throughout the shopping mall where the ATMS were situated.

Absa says that if the pilots are successful, it will be rolling out the technology across South Africa. Not surprisingly, the bank is refusing to give out many more details about its pepper-spraying ATMs, especially how one detects would-be bombers, citing security reasons.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
Vertical
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
DarkBlue1

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":["31996907"]}