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Author: Mike Ewing

Mountain Biking

The first time I went mountain biking was in Moab, Utah, and I hated it. Moab Utah is Mecca for mountain bikers. People comes from all over the world to do Slickrock Bike Trail, Captain Ahab, and the Whole Enchilada. I had gone to Moab with some of my coworkers from Colorado, and we didn’t do any of those trails. What we did instead was ride at the side of dirt roads so we could get covered in dirt as cars pulling trailers drove past. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. The last time I had ridden a bike before that trip had been when I had comfortably fit on my Schwinn Red Flyer. When I went to Moab, I didn’t have a good bike or the right equipment. I rented a hardtail mountain bike, and off we went. The temperature was in the upper 90’s and we rode at the side of various dirt roads in the middle of the day so the sun cooked us. Sitting perched on my bike, I felt like a slow-roasted rotisserie chicken. I didn’t have gloves, I didn’t have bike shorts, and the seat felt like it was going to cut me in half. My hands ached from gripping the handlebars. Worst of all, I came back to the hotel covered in dirt and looking and feeling like I had worked a construction job without getting paid. Everyone else had had a blast. I told them they were nuts…

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Are Our Financial Networks at Risk?

A number of years ago, while working at Bell Labs I asked myself what would happen if a hacker or terrorist or hostile nation were to break into the United States Federal Reserve. I then asked myself a second more interesting question. How would I do it? The result of those two questions is my high-tech crime thriller, Satan’s Gold. Network Hacking The first question, unfortunately, isn’t fiction any longe. The recent hack of SolarWinds proved that our financial networks are as vulnerable as I imagined they might be. SolarWinds, is network monitoring company used to connect and monitor worldwide corporations, individuals, and government agencies, including the US Treasury Department. Tools like SolarWinds allow organizations to proactively monitor their computer infrastructure so that, if there is a problem, they can learn about it quickly. When money’s involved, it’s important to fix a small problem becomes a bigger one. Companies would much rather be proactive than reactive. They would rather be the bowling ball than the bowling pin. The Solar Winds hack was so big that it was impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, data intrusion has gotten so prevalent in our lives that no one really notices when sites temporarily go offline. Credit card companies have gotten so used to their customer’s data being stolen, for example, that the theft has simply become a part of doing business. The customer calls a phone number, reports fraudulent charges, and the credit card company issues them a new card. In short order the customer…

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The Idea for Satan’s Gold

I wish I could say that I did a lot of research for the idea of Satan’s Gold, but I didn’t. At least not at first. What I did do was screw up my direct deposit form at my job by accidentally transposing two digits of my checking account number. The day I was supposed to get paid, I didn’t. I had bills to pay so I was concerned and reached out to my HR department. They quickly found my error and said they would fix it. The next day I got a call from accounting saying they had fixed the problem and were cutting a check. I told them thanks. Later that day, HR called again and told me they had fixed the problem and were cutting me a check. I also got a call from the Federal Reserve. They had an electronic deposit with my name on it that had bounced. They believed that two of the digits had been transposed from my checking account and asked me to read them the correct number. I did so. They told me they would immediately deposit the missing money but to call my accounting department and get the numbers fixed so it wouldn’t happen again. I meekly told them I already had and hung up. Later that day, the money was deposited. The Screw-Up Continued The following Friday, on my next payday, my direct deposit worked flawlessly as promised. However, I also got four paper paychecks! One of the paychecks…

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Satan's Gold is published by Grand Canyon Press.