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8th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium

Summer 2018

Global Cyber Security Experts Attend 8th Annual Maritime Risk Symposium at Tiffin University

Imagine modern-day pirates hacking a shipping company’s computer network. Inside the virtual world, they examine a ship’s manifest and identify precious cargo. Then, they determine the location of the ship and the position of the targeted cargo container. Using this information, the pirates board the ship, collect the cargo and leave before authorities can respond.

It’s not a movie, but a real-world threat.

Tiffin University’s Cyber Defense and Forensic program teaches students to stop these bandits. To enrich those skills, the University hosted the Eighth Annual Maritime Risk Symposium (MRS2017) in November 2017. More than 225 maritime professionals and students – including 14 people from five different countries – attended the intense workshops.

“It was quite an honor for a small university, like TU, to host an event that was previously exclusive to larger campuses,” said Scott Blough, Executive Director for the Center for Cyber Defense and Forensics at TU and National Co-Chair of the Maritime Risk Symposium. “The Symposium was an opportunity to bring national and international experts to Tiffin where they interacted with our students. I believe hosting it here speaks volumes to the strong reputation of the degree programs TU offers in cyber defense and the education we deliver to our students.”

Tiffin University is a member of the Department of Homeland Security Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence. TU approaches cybersecurity education differently from most institutions. “Cybersecurity at most universities is taught in the computer science department,” says Blough. “We teach ours in the criminal justice department. Our students learn the legal foundation of trade laws, treaties and policies. They understand security as a mindset, and then they get into the technical skills to keep organizations safe.”

Speakers came from the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Homeland Security, academia and research laboratories. During the two-day event, they discussed challenges to maritime industries and the marine transportation system. The experts talked about identifying threats and vulnerabilities as well as the latest advancements in security research. In addition to sharing subject expertise, they hoped to inspire innovation for the next generation of maritime cyberspace security professionals.

Caleb Reynolds, a Tiffin graduate who works for Interhack Corporation, a private consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio, believes ongoing education is important in the cybersecurity industry.

“Perhaps the most important thing I learned at the Symposium was that, industrywide, we need to spend more time and resources on training people,” he says. “The biggest vulnerability to a system is the human factor. We can mitigate that vulnerability through continued hands-on training of employees.”

Current students were impressed with the opportunity to network with high-level professionals and make contacts for the future. “I was able to talk to potential employers and other school officials that offered internships, potential jobs or opportunities,” says Marco Alfieri, a senior with a dual major in cyber defense and information assurance and in digital forensics.