Dr. Phillip Alvelda | The Federal Communications Commission | Jesse Martinez | Websites that Sell Stolen Digital Information

October 23, 2015

Geek of the Week

Dr. Phillip AlveldaPhillip AlveldaDr. Phillip Alvelda is the founder of MobiTV, a media platform that delivers live TV, video-on-demand, and the ability to download content for offline viewing all major wireless networks and major mobile operating systems. Alvelda stepped down as CEO of MobiTV in 2007 to start another company, Stealth Tail, a stealth mobile company. Alvelda has also founded the Westminster Institute for Science Education and MicroDisplay, a company that was based on his graduate school dissertation on Integrated Optoelectronic Computers. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Alvelda worked building spacecraft sensors and new computer architectures at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Alvelda has several degrees from Cornell and MIT and has previously served on the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for communications in the Digital Age.

People’s Hero of the Week

The Federal Communications CommissionFCC CommissionersThis week, the Federal Communications Commission made three decisions that have significantly improved opportunities for diverse ownership in broadcasting and eased burdens placed on the families of those incarcerated.  Yesterday, the Commission voted to adopt rate caps for all local and long distance calls from correctional facilities, eliminate and cap an endless array of fees, and ensure that every call made from prison or a jail is delivered with reasonable, just, and fair rates to the benefit of the incarcerated and their family and friends.  In addition, the Commission voted to streamline its broadcast foreign ownership review process and standardize the review process for broadcast, common carrier, and aeronautical licensees and applicants – an issue on which MMTC and dozens of other national organizations have advocated for over ten years.  During a press conference following its monthly open meeting, the Commission made another informal announcement: the commissioners have voted to approve AM revitalization efforts to bring regulatory relief to struggling AM broadcasters.  MMTC, along with 50 signators representing 140 minority-owned AM stations, have advocated for the Commission to act to revitalize AM radio, and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai recently released strong statements voicing their support.  Details on the Commission’s Order are expected to be released Monday.

Multicultural Entrepreneur of the Week

Jesse MartinezJesse MartinezJesse Martinez is the founder of several organizations dedicated to promoting opportunities for Latinos in media and tech.  In 2011, Martinez Co-Founded the Latino Startup Alliance, an organization dedicated to encouraging the inspiration and cultivation of Latino-led startup technology ventures by providing a strong support network of fellow Latino entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and business owners.  In 2012, he co-founded Youth Startups to bring awareness to public high schools as to what it means to be a tech entrepreneur and have them participate in a number of startup activities while promoting higher education. In 2014, he co-founded Avión Ventures, the first global startup pre-accelerator focused specifically on launching and accelerating the growth of Latina-led mobile first startups.  He has also co-founded media and tech firm Brasil Country Director, online Spanish daily deal site Mercado Latino, and imaging consulting group Western Imaj Systems.  Today, Martinez serves as an advisor for Hackers/Founders, a group he co-founded that has grown to become the largest network of entrepreneurs in the world, with over 200,000 members in 40 countries.  The organization also has an H/F Co-op accelerator program that has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Business.  In addition to his work, Martinez serves on the advisory boards of #YesWeCode and the Mission Economic Development Agency.

Digital Divider of the Week

Websites that Sell Stolen Digital InformationStolen Credit Card NumberThis week, Intel Security Group’s McAfee Labs released a report that found several websites, chat rooms, and communities that sell stolen digital personal information – from login credentials to video streaming services to credit card and social security numbers – for as little as 55 cents.  The details on the types of information bought and sold was particularly alarming.  The types of data being bought and sold can allow thieves to steal entire identities for a few hundred dollars, armed with the victim’s email, financial accounts, social media accounts, and more.  The cost of some of this information? For as little as $5 in the U.S., buyers can purchase software-generated payment card information; for $15, the bank ID number is included; and for $30, “full info” including date of birth is included.  In Europe, the prices are significantly higher – $25 to $45 for the same information – presumably because the European Union has tougher security measures in place on consumer credit and debit cards.  The sites also sell bank account login information for $20 to $300, depending on the balance in a particular account.  According to Raj Samani, chief technology officer of Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, “This ‘cybercrime-as-a-service’ marketplace has been a primary driver for the explosion in the size, frequency, and severity of cyber attacks.”  While it is difficult to completely protect yourself in today’s world, a good start is to call all three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and implement a credit freeze to ensure no one can open accounts in your name. And of course, as always, use complex and differing passwords for all online accounts, and only login from secure devices.