Dec. 15, 2017 – Superheros who fight crime don't always have wall-climbing abilities, wear a mask and fly through the air like a speeding bullet. Sometimes they have multiple academic degrees, wear Pantone 355 and 356 and plod through data in the halls of UNT's Business Leadership Building.
Dan J. Kim, professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences, currently is focusing on how to establish and sustain mutual trust between online customers and businesses while balancing information security and privacy in e-commerce—in addition to his teaching duties. He and his group of doctoral-candidate researchers study security threats, data breaches and other cybercrimes. Kim's research interests are multidisciplinary and include information assurance and security, trust in e-commerce and social informatics.
With the recent award of a $1.19 million National Science Foundation grant to UNT faculty, Kim's part is working on a career roadmap for cybersecurity students and professionals. A career roadmap would help cybersecurity professionals and employers determine which of the many training programs and certifications would best protect their organizations from cyberattacks.
Cybersecurity research at UNT spans several colleges and departments, including business, criminal justice and engineering. Along with other UNT researchers, Kim focuses on network security and human behavior in relation to cybersecurity. UNT is the only institution in the U.S. to receive National Science Foundation funding for a Scholarship for Service program exclusive to doctoral students studying cybersecurity. The SFS program is the federal government's response to deal with the threat to our information technology infrastructure by strengthening the cadre of cybersecurity/information assurance professionals who protect it. Through this program, the National Science Foundation partnered with Department of Homeland Security provides four-year colleges and universities with scholarship grants to attract students to the cybersecurity/information assurance fields.
UNT is one of 36 universities in the nation and one of four universities in Texas designated as a national Center of Academic Excellence in Research, CAE-R, and Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, CAE-IAE, by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The UNT Center for Information and Computer Security offers research expertise in internet-based technologies, protocol security, privacy, access control, cryptography, secured electronic commerce, secured mobile applications, and VoIP security.
Institutions with these designations are recognized as leaders in cybersecurity education and research, and UNT is one of about 32 institutions nationally with both designations.
Not only a content expert in management information systems with a doctoral degree and master's degree in computer science and engineering from the State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., Dr. Kim holds an MBA from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea, that gives him an international business perspective on his work. His teaching interests include information and network security, telecommunications, systems analysis and design and electronic and mobile commerce.
Kim likes things that change and learning about things that are new, he said, which is why he chose MIS, a new discipline at the time he chose his undergraduate major of study. Conversely, things that don't change, like bureaucracy, rules and regulations, tend to give him some of his angriest moments in life.
Considering the intellectual strengths required for a student to be academically successful in college, Kim cites vigorous and determined work—effort—as a requirement for success in information technology. Experience outside of academia, an ability for behavior analysis and adaptability to change are essential too, he said. Losing your passion, your interest in something for which you were once passionately interested is Kim's definition of failure—find your passion and then give it plenty of effort for a successful outcome. The success of his students and family members are what give him his happiest moments in life, he said.
When not fighting crime, Kim also faces the regular demands of a busy faculty member.
"Finding balance in my schedule to spend adequate time with my students is an ongoing challenge," Kim said. "I enjoy spending time outside of class with individual students while trying to balance research, time for introspection and home-life activities too."
In addition to working on challenges at work, Kim says one challenge in life he may never understand is teenagers— the teenage brain. It can be difficult to see one's own child turn into a teenager and realize suddenly that you're having trouble relating to them anymore. However, seeing Kim's family portrait, right, it is apparent his effort to connect with teenagers has been successful.
Enjoying family time, Kim said he likes traveling and mentions family trips to Niagara Falls, hiking in the mountains of Colorado and visiting Yellowstone National Park. The next trip on his schedule, he said, is to go to Europe. His favorite technology device is his smart TV, that delicious convergence between computers and a flatscreen television where he can watch science fiction movies and documentaries. His favorite smartphone applications include Maps and Runtastic.
Spiderman eats Aunt May's Cherry Pie, and the Ninja Turtles love pizza, but Batman and Dr. Kim seem to enjoy steak. Even more delicious than smart technology, Kim enjoys Bulgogi, literally "fire meat," a dish made of thin, marinated slices of beef, grilled on a barbecue or a stove-top griddle. It is also often stir-fried in a pan in home-cooking with soy sauce, pear juice, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds and black pepper.