At Home: Manitoba welfare system may switch to debit cards
For many welfare recipients, the fees charged by cheque-cashing companies are just one more obstacle to making ends meet. But the Manitoba government is looking at a switch to debit cards, a move that would ?get around the stigma, fees and hurdles that can come with cashing monthly cheques.?
As the Globe and Mail reports, the debit card would be linked to a bank account where welfare benefits are deposited each month. Recipients would then swipe their cards at retailers, and cards ?would be automatically reloaded every month.?
The government prefers using direct deposit for payments, partly to eliminate the administrative costs of replacing lost or damaged cheques, but ?less than two-thirds of recipients? have signed on. One barrier is the lack of banking services, according to some poverty-rights groups.
Wayne Helgason, head of the Winnipeg Social Planning Council, told reporters that ?the banks have more or less abandoned much of the inner city . . .? And without reasonable access to banks, welfare recipients are often forced to pay exorbitant fees to cheque-cashing and money-lending operations. The government’s plan faces some major hurdles, including privacy concerns and finding a provider that can manage debit-card transactions. But Dave Fisher, acting executive director of the province’s employment and income assistance program, told reporters that the goal remains ?to find efficient ways to get the benefits into people’s hands, and we’re always open to ideas to improve that methodology.?
In Foreign News: Vehicle computer systems at risk to hackers
It’s bad enough that you have to protect yourself from hackers on your home computer and smart phone. But what about when they take control of the computer systems in your car?while You’re driving it? As The New York Times reports, two teams of scientists are warning about that very real possibility as cars become ?increasingly connected to the Internet in the near future.? The scientists will be presenting a report on the topic next week. The report includes the disturbing news that researchers were able to ?demonstrate the ability to adversarially control a wide range of automotive functions and completely ignore driver input?including disabling the brakes, selectively braking individual wheels on demand, stopping the engine, and so on.?
The scientists, computer security specialists at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, noted that although safety measures are engineered into new cars? computer systems, not much attention was being paid to the potential threat of hackers who might override those measures. Scientists also performed ?composite attacks,? showing they could ?insert malicious software and then erase any evidence of tampering after a crash.?
As more cars are linked to remote onboard services, the researchers say that ?the experience of the PC industry, which did not have extensive security problems until computers became networked, was worth remembering.?