George Curry | Frederick Hutson | Antonio Guernica | Credit Card Hackers

May 7, 2015

Geek of the Week

George CurryGeorge CurryGeorge Curry is editor-in-chief and a syndicated columnist for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) News Service, a federation of over 200 African-American newspapers. Previously, Curry has served as a Washington correspondent and New York bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, and reporter for Sports Illustrated and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. While editor of Emerge, Curry became the first African American to be elected president of the American Society of Magazine Editors. In addition, Curry wrote and served as chief correspondent for the “Frontline” television documentary “Assault on Affirmative Action” and has been featured in a segment of One Plus One, a PBS documentary on mentoring. Curry has also appeared in several television news outlets, including CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, The Today Show, 20/20, Good Morning America, CNN, C-SPAN, BET, Fox Network News, MSNBC, and ESPN. He received the University of Missouri’s Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 2000, named the National Association of Black Journalist’s Journalist of the Year in 2003, and received the Black AIDS Institute’s “Heroes in the Struggle Award” for his work combatting HIV/AIDS in 2008.

People’s Hero of the Week

Frederick HutsonFrederick HutsonFor over a decade, the Prison Phone Rates Collaborative, Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, and even internationally-acclaimed film director Ava DuVernay have been vocal advocates in the fight for prison phone rate reform.  Unreasonably high prison phone rate practices have long had an adverse impact on incarcerated individuals’ ability to keep in touch with loved ones, which disproportionately affects the poor and their rates of recidivism.  FCC Commissioner and former Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn has since become a champion of the issue, and the Commission voted to expand its reforms of the high cost of phone calls for incarcerated individuals last October.  However, many believe there is still more work to be done.  Frederick Hutson, a former inmate with first-hand experience of how hard it is to keep in touch with family while incarcerated, used technology to take matters into his own hands. Soon after his release, Hutson founded Pigeonly, a technology company that builds solutions-driven products for those who need it most, underserved communities.  Through Pigeonly’s most popular products, Photopigeon (an easy way to send printed photos from a mobile phone) and Telepigeon (a low-cost alternative to expensive phone calls), users have shipped over a million photos and processed over eight million phone minutes since Pigeonly launched.  In addition, the Pigeonly platform centralizes the myriad state-level databases, making it a quick search to find where an inmate is in the system.  A key factor in Hutson’s ability to get Pigeonly off the ground was through his acceptance to the NewMe Accelerator, a Silicon Valley-based accelerator that focuses on underrepresented minorities.  A born entrepreneur, Hutson launched and sold his first business at the age of 19.  Today, he leads a growing team of over 17 people from their Las Vegas headquarters and has raised over $3 million in funding.

Multicultural Entrepreneur of the Week

Antonio GuernicaAntonio GuernicaAntonio Guernica is the station group manager of Media Vista Group, a multi-platform, Hispanic-owned media company. In this role, Guernica is responsible for sales and the supervision of operations for Univision, UniMas, and the Azteca America television affiliates in the Ft. Myers-Naples market, including the locally produced D’latinos program now in its 13th year of continuous local broadcast. Guernica has an extensive background in media and entrepreneurship. In 2011, he launched Guernica Marketing, a firm that provided strategic insights and profitable marketing plans to address the Hispanic market in the Washington, DC, area. In addition, Guernica has served as vice president and general manager of Entravision Communications; vice president and general manager of mega communications; general manager of Univision Chicago; and president of Los Cerezos Broadcasting Company, where he directed the company’s operational startup, which introduced Spanish-language television and radio to the Washington, DC, market. Guernica has also held roles as a documentary film writer, and he is the author of “A Cuban in Paradise,” a historical saga that depicts a 1950s Cuban family caught in the storm of Fidel Castro’s revolution.

Digital Divider of the Week

Credit Card Hackers Credit CardsThe past couple of years have been fraught with a number of high-profile cyberattacks on dozens of companies – namely credit card security breaches – that collectively impacted hundreds of millions of people across the globe.  This week, KrebsOnSecurity reported that there has been yet another significant credit card security breach similar to the Home Depot attack last September, whereby hackers infected point-of-sale (POS) systems with malware that allowed thieves to siphon customer card data from affected merchants.  This most recent scheme targeted Harbortouch, a company that provides POS transaction systems to over 150,000 businesses, generally restaurants and bars.  While Harbortouch maintains that only a “small percentage” of its 150,000 merchants were affected, this still amounts to 4,200 businesses, potentially impacting millions of customers. Harbortouch is working to notify the card-issuing banks that were impacted, but there is much we can do to prevent such cyberattacks from happening.  On April 30, MMTC, along with the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), DiverseTech, and Protect My Data, filed a joint letter urging Congress to step in and push credit card companies to implement chip and PIN technology.  Although it is almost universally used in other parts of the world such as the European Union, the U.S. lags far behind in adopting the technology, which embeds a chip into credit cards that encrypts data at POS transactions and requires customers to enter a PIN to verify their identity.  Companies may be slow to adopt chip-and-PIN cards due to the associated costs, but the costs that arise from the rampant security breaches are far greater, and put a burden on consumers.  Hopefully, companies will step up and Congress to step in to ensure American consumers are afforded with real, 21st-century protections that adequately address the threats posed in a 21st-century world.