Abuse of PDA is A-OK
Since 1997, the Swedish company, The Handheld Group ( www.handheldgroup.com/en) has been
supplying ruggedized mobile computers to markets such
as the military, utilities, transportation, and field service
industries. Their latest is the Nautiz X9: an Android PDA
that can be used as a mobile computer, data collector, or
Features include a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 1.3
GHz processor, both GPS and Global Navigation Satellite
System (GLONASS) capabilities, dual cameras ( 13 and
two megapixel), 4G LTE phone functionality, a 2D
imager, and a sunlight-readable five
inch capacitive display.
“Ruggedized” is a relative
term, of course, but here it relates
to MIL-STD-810G, which specifies
a series of two dozen lab tests that
relate to surviving high altitudes,
mechanical shocks, humidity,
temperature (in this case, – 22°F to
140°F, or – 30°C to 60°C), and so
on. One of the primary
considerations for field work is the ingress protection (IP)
level, and the X9 scores an IP67 rating, meaning that it is
totally protected against dust and will withstand
immersion at one meter for up to 30 min. The company
website is shy about revealing the price, but various
sources place it at $1,699 for the standard unit and
$2,099 if you want high-speed downlink packet access
(HSDPA) and wireless wide area network (WWAN)
EVENTS, ADVANCES, AND NEWS
COMPUTERS and NETWORKING
Avoid the Skim Scam
Pretty much everyone knows that credit/debit card skimmers are a growing problem, getting cheaper and more common
all over North America. In fact, the crooks who use them don’t
even have to physically retrieve the information anymore — they
can just download it from a distance via Bluetooth.
So, how do you detect the presence of one before you
insert your card and start pumping? Sure, you can yank the card
reader off the pump and check for skimmer circuitry, but the 7-
Eleven guy may not appreciate it — especially if you damage the
pump and don’t actually find one.
Well, it’s no longer a problem, assuming you have a
Bluetooth-equipped Android device. SparkFun Electronics
( www.sparkfun.com) has come up with Skimmer Scanner: a free
open source app that detects common Bluetooth-based credit
card skimmers as found in gas pumps.
In operation, the app scans for available Bluetooth
connections and looks for a device with title HC-05. If found, the
app will attempt to connect using the default password of 1234.
Once connected, the letter “P” will be sent. If is receives a
response of “M,” then there is a very high likelihood there is a
skimmer in the Bluetooth range of your phone ( 5 to 15 ft). Best
of all, it’s downloadable for free from the Google Play site
( play.google.com). ▲
■ Typical gas pump skimmer.
■ Handheld’s Nautiz X9,
certified to MIL-STD-810G.
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