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Faculty Spotlight: Dave Selnick, School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences

Meet Dave Selnick
Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Intelligence and Security Studies
School of Criminal Justice and Social Services

Tell us about your position at TU.
I am the assistant dean of the School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences. In that position, I get the privilege of working with faculty and students studying such diverse fields as forensic psychology, homeland security, criminology, substance abuse counseling, government and national security and cyber security at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Personally, I teach intelligence and security studies, which means I get to have fun talking about such things as the Instruments of National Power, covert action and clandestine activities, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism, the Principles of War and the Law of Armed Conflict.

However, the best part of my job has to be my role as the faculty advisor for the Global Affairs Organization, TU’s international affairs club. We discuss issues of culture, international business, politics and economics. We also send teams to compete in a regional Model United Nations competition and an international Model North Atlantic Treaty Organization competition in Washington, DC. Interacting with the students who are excited by the incredible variety in this world we live in is definitely the highlight of every week.

What is your background in cyber security?
I served for twenty years in the US Air Force as a cyberspace operations officer. That gave me wonderful opportunities to be involved in cyber security in drastically different environments, ranging from combat communications for Special Operations Forces in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to working with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. I was humbled and honored when the unit I commanded was named by Crosstalk magazine as one of the top five software development organizations in the country, and when the nearly 2,000-person U.S. Central Command named me as the 2007 Communications Officer of the Year for my service in Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. Shortly before I retired from the Air Force, I served as the Chief of Cyber Security Strategy and Planning at the Pentagon, where I worked with our partners in the Defense Industrial Base to better protect their networks from cyber espionage and with the Intelligence Community to determine the damage that resulted (in terms of dollars, technological knowledge and the development of countermeasures) from cyber intrusions.  I also had the opportunity to work with offices across the service to reorganize the way the Air Force manages cryptography.

Why is cyber security so important to the people of our country?
One of the greatest dangers of cyber is that it is a “black box” to most people, yet we rely on it for the most basic functions in our daily lives. Just think of how often you pay a bill electronically, or enter a date in your smartphone’s calendar. Because people like the convenience of cyber, but don’t really understand how it works, when they hear on the news that another company was hacked and their personal information was stolen, they can feel helpless. Many Americans have had their financial, medical and social information compromised by many means. Examples abound of major corporations and agencies being hacked, such as the recent incidents involving Equifax, which exposed the personal data, including social security numbers, of about half of all Americans. Cyber criminals have also attacked individuals’ computers and held their data captive until a ransom fee was paid. Data compromise also occurs as a result of simple carelessness on the part of people charged with protecting this information, such as the employee who took home some work which included customers’ private data on a personal, unencrypted laptop which was subsequently stolen out of the back seat of the employee’s car (yes, that really happened). Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility, from the user of a device, to the manufacturer of that device, to the folks who run the networks over which the data is transported to do everything practical to ensure the integrity, reliability, and availability of our information.

Another danger is the perception that what happens in cyberspace doesn’t affect the “real” world. Yet, as we have seen in recent years, that is not the case. Just look up the video on YouTube where hackers took control of a new SUV while a driver was going down the road by hacking its radio. The hackers had complete control of the vehicle, and the driver became an innocent victim at their mercy. What if, instead of being an SUV, that had been a train, a plane, or a ship? Of course, that would be a much more complex operation, but it is still theoretically possible. What’s more, our entire energy grid runs by computer, as does our financial system. What if hackers–whether they be cyber criminals or nation-state actors–decided to mess with these systems? These systems are integral to our civilization, and they need to be protected.

Can you tell us about the 8th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium?
For the past seven years, the Maritime Risk Symposium has gathered industry and government experts together to look at risks to the maritime environment holistically. Each year, the symposium concentrates on a different risk. This year, we are focusing on cyber security and the various unique challenges it presents to those who work in, and depend on, the maritime industry.

Cyber security has garnered a great deal of attention in the last couple of years, which is great. Unfortunately, one of the aspects of that topic that has not been as well addressed has been cyber and the maritime industry. Maritime operations have unique cyber challenges which are distinct from other applications of cyber technology, and this symposium aims to spark that conversation.

I think it is important to understand how big of a deal it is that this symposium is being hosted by Tiffin University. TU is not the typical MRS host. In past years, much larger research institutions have had that honor. However, TU, with our unique, security-minded cyber programs, as well as our proximity to the ports, shores, and water systems of the Great Lakes is actually the ideal institution to host this year’s feature topic of cyber security and the maritime transportation system. I consider it a great testimony to the quality of our cyber programs, facilities, faculty, and students that the organizers of the symposium chose us to host this prestigious international event.

How did you get involved with the Symposium?
Tiffin University’s School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences is hosting the symposium. As the assistant dean of the school, and as an assistant professor of Intelligence and Security Studies, I was eager to be involved from the beginning.

Who/what groups will be attending the Symposium and why?
Stakeholders from many facets of the maritime industry will attend the symposium. Academics, cyber security experts, representatives of shipping agents, military, as well as federal, state and local government representatives will all be in attendance. The symposium will also have participants from several foreign countries.

What do you want people to know about the Maritime Risk Symposium? 
The symposium is more than just a chance for people to get together for a few days and hear some interesting speakers. Every year, the symposium ends by publishing research questions which academic institutions and government agencies will attempt to answer over the next year. Therefore, the symposium is a forum to develop real solutions to real problems.

Anything fun about the Symposium that you can share?
I think one of the best things about the symposium is that students are not only invited, but encouraged, to participate. Students from TU, other regional colleges and universities, and the Air Force, Naval, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies will have the opportunity to present their own research in the form of posters, speak with corporate and government leaders in mentorship sessions, and listen in on the symposium sessions. And, you know, any time you get students together, fun is sure to follow!


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Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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