Cybercrime in the World Today

Pace University hosts a stimulating discussion about the growing impact of cybercrime on various industries and a review of original research focused on the issue of skimmer fraud.

On Thursday, February 28, join Pace University and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) USA as they come together for Cybercrime in the World Today, a symposium with a focus on skimmer fraud. The day’s participants come from a variety of backgrounds and include Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and Investigative Division David Szuchman, and Kelly Bissell, principal, Information and Technology Risk Management and Global Incident Response at Deloitte & Touche.

The term “cybercrime” often conjures up the image of a rogue hacker, hiding away behind a computer screen, attempting to crack the digital code that protects the Fort Knox of databases. But, the truth is we expose ourselves to the hazards of cybercrime each time we open our wallets.

Skimmer fraud, a crime responsible for billions of dollars in lost revenue and is one of the major crimes being fought by federal and local law enforcement agencies, typically occurs during legitimate transactions. “Gone are the days when a bank robber needed to point a gun at a teller to steal money,” says Seidenberg Computer Information Systems Chair and computer forensics expert Darren Hayes, DPS, “Now the thieves can bilk millions from financial institutions using simple skimming devices.”

Theft of personal information happens through the copying of information on a credit card, the illegal installation of a “skimming” device, or “parasite” on a point-of-sale machine at stores or gas stations, or theft of bank information from overlay skimming devices at ATMs.

“We’re working on a survey of corporations, distributed through accounting firms, to make an assessment of companies that have been victims of skimmer fraud,” Hayes says, “Our goal is to quantify how big the problem is and ultimately provide guidance on how organizations can seek to mitigate these risks.”

Many agencies, says Hayes, talk about the issue of cybercrime, but they don’t break out the skimmer fraud piece and how important that is for overall evaluation. Hayes is collaborating with other researchers from Seidenberg and Lubin, who have partnered together to study skimmer fraud as part of the broad spectrum of cybercrime. Hayes and those involved with the upcoming symposium hope to provide advice to large companies who are seeking to re-evaluate their future business practices, as well as the individual credit or debit card user on how to mitigate the risks of skimmer fraud.

For more information about the day’s participants and to RSVP for Cybercrime and the World Today, please click here.

New Seidenberg Dean

Amar Gupta, PhD, the Thomas R. Brown Endowed Professor of Management and Technology at the University of Arizona and a visiting scientist at MIT, has been appointed dean of Seidenberg.

President Stephen J. Friedman announced today that Amar Gupta, PhD, the Thomas R. Brown Endowed Professor of Management and Technology at the University of Arizona and a visiting scientist at MIT, has been appointed dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, effective August 15.

To read the full press release, click here.

On the Nordic Track

A year-long project ends in an exciting gala for Pace students at Aalto University, Finland.

Finland is known as many things: as the land of the midnight sun; as a place for cold winters; and, on the business side, as a place for top-notch design, the best in high-level technology, and a world-class education system. In April, Jonathan Hill, DPS, associate dean of the Seidenberg School, along with Program Manager Wilfredo Pena led a team of four Pace undergraduates to take part in an international, interdisciplinary project at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. The team consisted of computer science majors Julie Gill ’12, Jeremy Pease ’12, and Zahid Mahir ’15, and English Language and Literature major Nina Freeman ’12.

The program, known as the Product Development Project (PDP), is a year-long intensive design sprint in which student teams develop real products for corporate sponsors including Ericsson, Panasonic, Kone, and many more. The companies provide funding for the students to develop a prototype of an actual product—conducting field research, purchasing supplies, and attending the capstone PDP Gala where the students demonstrate their projects. The program brings together students from Finland, Australia, China, India, Japan, and six other European countries.

“It was a fascinating experience to work with   world-class designers and engineers,” says Gill, who was a member of the Innovator team sponsored by Kone Elevators (similar to Otis in America). Innovator’s goal was to develop a new, interactive experience for elevator passengers, which Gill helped program. Their booth at the Gala included a full scale elevator model, which featured the touchscreen system they had developed.

“PDP is great because it gives students real world experience in working on products that are actually made according to the needs of a company,” says Mahir, whose team Hometelligence (sponsored by Panasonic) created a hi-tech pillow that would regulate itself according to the users sleeping patterns. Other projects included: the Be Careless team sponsored by Ericsson, to which Pease belonged, which developed an online tracking technology to help locate easily lost objects like keys, glasses, and bags; and ABBdroid, sponsored by global engineering giant ABB, which built a mobile app for the Android operating system to be used as a sales tool by ABB’s global sales force. English major Freeman used her skills on that team to enhance the content as well as her design skills.

“The Aalto students are talented designers and engineers, the kinds of professionals that our Seidenberg students will be working with in their careers,” says Hill who accompanied the Pace students to the year-end Gala in Finland. “When you include the international factor with time changes and cultural differences with the reality of meeting the needs of a real, corporate client, you have the ingredients for an incredibly powerful learning experience.”

Green Tweets

Seidenberg Professor Catherine Dwyer examines if Twitter can truly be the tipping point for climate change.

“You have people clicking the ‘like’ button or retweeting and feeling like they’ve actually done something for the environment instead of say recycling,” says Catherine Dwyer, PhD, Seidenberg associate professor and member of Special Interest Group on Green Information Systems (SIGGreen). The group, which brings together a wide variety of Green IS professionals and researchers, uses technology to facilitate transglobal collaboration and research. SIGGreen members recently traveled to Barcelona where Dwyer presented her research on Twitter’s role in the issue of climate change.

Dwyer presenting in Barcelona, Spain.

“Everybody is on Twitter and there is a goodwill feeling that has a role in advocacy. We saw it with the Arab Spring and other political events and it certainly has enabled a lot of connections between people who were not connected before,” says Dwyer. “But can Twitter really make a difference in something as complex and interconnected as climate change?”

Using Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis from his article “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted,” Dwyer mapped his findings onto the issue of climate change. “He had terrible timing—In October 2010 he writes that Twitter basically doesn’t matter, and along comes the Arab Spring in early 2011,” explains Dwyer. “It looked as though he was completely wrong, but he really made some good points.”

Twitter, she agrees, is great for making connections with different people and sharing information, but the degree to which people are engaged hasn’t been measured yet. So is all of this liking and retweeting just a superficial phenomenon in social media?

The answer is yes and no. While Dwyer and other Green IS professionals are working out the nuts and bolts of recognizing, measuring, and optimizing engagement, Dwyer has noted a trend. Most social media, she believes, seems to be most successful in the advocacy arena when related to a current or ongoing event like the Gulf oil spill. “Organizations were all over Twitter then, and they were breaking all kinds of news stories,” she says “but we don’t have those sorts of events every day.”

To learn more about SIGGreen and the work they’re doing, click here.

Leadership and Service in Technology

On June 21 the Seidenberg School with keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor, honors Verizon CIO and Senior Vice President of IT Strategy and Planning Judith Spitz, PhD, at its 17th annual award reception.

On Thursday, June 21, the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems will host its 17th Annual Leadership and Service in Technology Award Reception. The award is presented to an individual who exemplifies leadership in the field of technology by demonstrating a commitment to development, innovation, research, and application. Proceeds from the reception support Seidenberg students through scholarship funding and underwriting key academic initiatives.

Verizon CIO and Senior Vice President of IT Strategy and Planning Judith Spitz, PhD, will be recognized at this year’s reception. Spitz is being honored for her contributions to technology including the  establishment of enterprise-wide standards for IT computing infrastructure and systems architecture, for IT portfolio and talent management, process and technology transformation, IT governance and compliance, and finally for integration with corporate strategy. Through her 26-year career at Verizon, Spitz has also shown a commitment to encouraging young women to pursue an education and career in technology.

“I have been associated with Pace University and the Seidenberg School for many years and I am continually impressed by the incredible work they do both in educating their students and reaching out to and supporting the community,” says Spitz. “I am so very humbled to be their honoree this year and I am extremely proud to represent Verizon and their commitment to women in technology at the 2012 Leadership and Service in Technology Award Reception.”

This year’s reception will also feature a keynote address from Soledad O’Brien, anchor for the CNN morning show Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien and special correspondent for CNN.

The annual Leadership and Service in Technology Award Reception reflects Pace’s commitment to promoting technology as a creative, practical, and empowering career in the 21st century. Over the past five years, the Leadership and Service in Technology Award Reception has provided support for more than 50 students. Past recipients of the honor include Gary Butler, President and CEO, Automatic Data Processing; Jay Dweck, Managing Director Global Head of Strategies, Morgan Stanley;  Joseph Simon, Chief Information Officer, Viacom; and many others.

For more information about the award reception, please contact Pamela Yosh at pyosh@pace.edu or log on to www.pace.edu/lst

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Jim Lawler

Did you know that Seidenberg Professor Jim Lawler is an undercover history buff and world traveler? When he’s not meeting penguins in Patagonia and the Sultan in Oman, read how he gave up being a corporate exec for encouraging students to help underprivileged members of society in this month’s The Professor Is In!

Seidenberg Professor of Information Technology Jim Lawler, PhD, has a lot of hidden talents up his sleeves. Known for his generosity and kindness, as well as having a passion for helping others, Professor Lawler enriches the lives of Pace students and young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities through the use of technology in his Community Empowerment through Information Systems Course (CIS 102W). Lawler is encouraging both students and young people in the community to work together, and helps build both relationships and rewarding experiences.

In 2010, Professor Lawler was the recipient of a national Jefferson Award for Community Service, and was specifically noted for his involvement with AHRC NYC, a nonprofit organization in Lower Manhattan dedicated to serving individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class as a college student was marketing, and my least favorite class was statistics.

What was one thing or person that made you passionate about your current career?
From my corporate experience at Merrill Lynch from 1976 to1998 in managing an internal learning organization, I learned that helping others in the learning of computer technology had an immediate impact on personal performance, which was a consideration that motivated me to begin a concurrent career as an Adjunct Professor at Pace from 1983 to 2001 and as a Professor from 2002 to the present at the Seidenberg School.

What quality do you most value in your students?
The quality that I value most in my students is self-motivation to succeed, which is a quality that I require of students that are in my extra-curricular programs of service that are helping teenagers and young adults with disabilities at the University.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
I would encourage undergraduate students to be engaged in different extra-curricular programs not only in their fields of study but also in other fields in the schools of the University, from which they would develop a network of faculty and students that would be helpful to them when they graduate from the University, and I would encourage them to be engaged in community organization projects in helping others less fortunate than themselves. Education is not only learning but also engagement in the life of a university.  Few students leverage the advantages of extra-curricular programs at a university.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
If I had to do it over again, I would prefer to be a professor upon graduation from university, and not be a corporate executive, which was my official profession until I joined Pace as a non-adjunct professor in 2002. Though the compensation as an executive of Merrill Lynch was exceptionally great, the experience of helping others, as I am helping students and those not as fortunate in society, is greater than in a corporate organization. The impact on others is greater in a university.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
My favorite books are generally 20th century history, and my favorite TV is the history and military channels, though my favorites in entertainment are the Met operas of Wagner and the plays of Shakespeare at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Lantern Theater (Philadelphia).

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
If I had an extra hour every day, I would read even more history.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
My favorite journey was to Antarctic and Patagonia in South America in 2006, where I met millions of penguins, and my favorite exotic journeys were to India in 2008, where I met in person the actress Aishwarya Rai, and to Oman in 2004, where I met the Sultan.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
“Three Glories of Speech: Brevity, Steadiness and Wisdom”—from the precepts of King Cormac as recorded in the Irish ”Book of Leinster.”

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?
I would choose Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan—my favorite presidents.

Interview by Pace student Helen Arase ‘14

Star(gazing) Wars

You’ve all heard of IQ, but what about VIQ? Visual Intelligence Quotient, that is. That’s what researchers in Pace’s robotics labs are working on in an effort to create robots that can perceive and react to their surroundings.

“We don’t have R2D2 wandering around because robots don’t really know where they are. Your computer doesn’t know it’s on your desk,” says D. Paul Benjamin, PhD, director of Pace’s robotics lab and professor of computer science at Seidenberg. “And that’s what we’re trying to do—build in the software that can give robots that capability.”

If this sounds like something straight out of a video game, then you’re right. For Benjamin, the concept of having a robot be able to understand the world around it came in part from watching iconic plumbers Mario and Luigi navigate the virtual, but working, world of Super Mario Brothers, a video game Benjamin began playing with his oldest daughter about 15 years ago.

“We’re working on a computer vision system for a mobile robot so that, as the robot moves around it will use what is essentially computer game software, like Super Mario, and the main thing about that is the software understands the physics of the world, so balls can bounce and people can’t walk through walls, and so on,” explains Benjamin.

The robotics lab, which has been a part of the University for several years, is frequented by academically exceptional undergraduate and graduate student researchers who are dedicated to the development and exploration of intelligent agents. Benjamin, who has been awarded a prestigious $300,000 research grant by the Army Research Office, is currently in the second year of his work on the visual intelligence initiative. “This is really cutting-edge research,” he says, “There are very few people around the world working on projects like this.”

Students Lin Yixia and Vinnie Monaco with a robot.

“What we’re doing is creating a system, with a pair of stereo cameras, where the robot makes a virtual copy of the world around it in real-time, so that as it moves around, it sees people moving, cars driving, and it makes a copy of it in its virtual world,” says Benjamin. “The virtual world runs like the real world and can be run faster than real-time. It can be used to predict what people are doing and where they are moving.”

The creation of an intelligent agent that is aware of its environment and the things in it and can appropriately interact with humans and objects is the ultimate goal for Benjamin and his team, although at the moment the team is just working on getting the robot to interact with people in the lab.

“We hope that by the early part of next semester to have it moving around,” Benjamin says, “We’re going to see if it can cross the street on its own—something that’s hard enough to do in Manhattan for people!”

For more information about Pace’s robotics lab and the work being done by D. Paul Benjamin, PhD, click here.

Mobile Safety

When mobile phones first became popular, our biggest concern was exposure to radiation. Now, there’s texting while driving, sexting, and cyber bullying. Next month, Pace partners with WiredSafety and Verizon on a conference that will challenge industry leaders to make mobile safety a priority.

With the rise of technology has come a similar rise in news stories that nobody wants to see: “Cyber bullying pushes high school student to commit suicide. Teen texting while driving kills two.”  However, as technology remains we need to find ways to make it safer.

On March 16 and 17, the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems is collaborating with WiredSafety, the largest online safety, education, and help group in the world, to address the dangers of mobile devices and discuss innovative solutions at the Mobile Safety Summit, which is being held on both the New York City and Pleasantville campuses.

The conference, which is partially funded by a $15,000 Verizon Foundation grant to bring information on mobile safety and cyber bullying to high school and college students, will kick off with a community day on the Pleasantville Campus on March 16. Students and educators are encouraged to attend and voice their concerns around mobile safety, cyber bullying, internet privacy, and more, and discuss ways we can work together to address these problems and make these innovations safer.

“The users are young, they’re inexperienced, they’re unprotected, but they’re engaged. We need to figure out how to work with these young people and keep them safe, and not just deny that these technologies are out there,” says conference co-organizer Nancy Hale, PhD, who is the chair of special programs at Seidenberg, co-chair of the doctoral program in computing, and co-director of the Pace/NACTEL program.

Hale also notes the importance of working with organizations like Facebook to stay cyber safe. “They want to address these issues. We just need to have this dialogue,” she says. “The purpose of this conference is to create this dialogue so that these technologies can be refined.”

The second day of the conference will bring key industry leaders from organizations such as Facebook and Zynga, policymakers, law enforcement, parents, and educators to the NYC Campus to discuss findings from the community day and frame an action plan to keep our youth cyber safe. Co-organizer Parry Aftab, who is the executive director of WiredSafety and a leading international cyber safety expert, calls the conference “a giant focus group” and invites faculty, staff, and students to attend.

“The whole energy at Pace is exciting. I think we can change the world if we engage the students and the faculty and the brilliant administrators at Pace,” says Aftab. “Everyone’s walking around with more power in their backpacks and purses than corporations had a few years ago. Mobile is the future of entertainment, the future of business, and all stakeholders need to collaborate.”

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the Mobile Safety Summit website.

Trading Sand and Sun for Scholarship

Each summer, Pace brings an exceptional group of high school students to get a taste of college life in the big city through two separate programs.

Summer Scholars Institute

Wouldn’t it be great if prospective college students could get a taste of college life and “try on” a major before committing to a school? Pace allows rising juniors and seniors in high school experience what Professor Christopher Malone, PhD, calls “college on training wheels” in the Pace Summer Scholars Institute. Incoming students choose from one of ten “majors” for their two-week stay, live in dorms, and are mentored and supervised by current Pace students.

“This is a chance not only for high school kids to meet other high school kids, but to see what a successful college student looks like,” says Malone, the program’s director. “On the Pace side, [students] become role models.”

Now in its twelfth year, the Summer Scholars Institute was established by former Provost Geoffrey Brackett, DPhil (Oxon.). The then-English professor designed a one-week program specifically for students to take classes in literature.

In 2005, Professor Malone assumed the role of director and added a range of majors, including theater arts, sciences, political science, and more. “I didn’t want it to remain a small, boutique English program,” he says. “I wanted to expand it to a full range of what Pace has to offer from business classes to science.”

Thanks in part to a grant from the Teagle Foundation, the average number of students has risen from 21 to more than 100 high schoolers coming to campus each summer for a comprehensive taste of higher education. Students can live in the dorms, take classes in their “majors” taught by Pace faculty and staff, and explore the city through field trips and other outings. A great advantage to participants is the Pace Promise, which guarantees students letters of recommendation and makes financial aid more accessible, should they choose to come to Pace.

Thirty Summer Scholars alumni applied to Pace for fall 2010, and nearly a dozen are already enrolled in classes.

In addition to the taste of college life, students also have the opportunity to build lifelong friendships. Malone cites the summer class of 2007 as one example, where five students from all over the country quickly became close friends and remained in contact. These five students participated in Malone’s alternative spring break trip in New Orleans to help clean up homes and work with children in grammar schools.

Seidenberg Scholars

While exceptional students typically have their pick of Ivy League institutions, the Seidenberg Scholars Program serves as one unique recruiting tool that attracts top talent to Pace.

“This program is highly competitive,” says Program Director and Seidenberg Assistant Dean Jonathan Hill, DPS. “A lot of these kids have perfect SAT scores. We’re trying to find the stand-out students with leadership roles in their high schools.”

Each summer, 24 rising high school seniors – whom Hill describes as “top, top math and technology students” – come to Pace to participate in a variety of development challenges using the Lego robotics framework over the course of a week. They are partnered with a faculty member and work with alumni of the Seidenberg Scholars Program. Students visit hot technology startups in the city, attend cultural events, and get a general feel for the work and cultural climate in New York City.

“College is a highly individual choice. Ultimately these kids have to decide if they want to give up the traditional sorority houses and football stadiums,” says Hill. “What they get [in return] is access to the hottest tech jobs in the country.”

One of the advantages of Pace includes the option for students to participate in a variety of creative classes or even take a double major, in addition to being part of a comprehensive technology program. While computer science and fine or performing arts are not subjects that are typically paired together, Hill notes that many a Seidenberg Scholar will go on to study a right-brain and a left-brain discipline.

“It’s pretty common,” says Hill. “The computer folks are creative problem-solvers. We find those kids who are serious artists and performers, which is a definite sell for Pace.”

Attracting students from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii, the Seidenberg Scholars Program helps participants stay in touch through its active Facebook page. In previous years, almost one third of the attendees have accepted admission to Pace.

“The quality of work that the students, faculty, and alumni produce is incredible,” says Hill. “I think these students are a representation of the future for Pace—talented people who could go to school anywhere, but chose to come to Pace.”