David J. Hickton

  • Director University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security
  • Former U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania (2010-2016)

David Hickton is a former U.S. Attorney and current director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security. He was nominated for United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania by President Barack Obama in 2010 and held the position until November 2016.

Cybersecurity is a major field of expertise for David, and he is an advocate for cybersecurity vigilance, along with the development of new and innovative methods to defend the nation and combat cybercrime. David also focused on the national opioid crisis in co-chairing the National Heroin Task Force and founding the U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Drug Overdoses and Addiction. He brought community prosecutions against large-scale drug traffickers, while working to minimize the stigma and criminalization of addiction and improve access to treatment. He established a civil rights section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and secured fundamental changes throughout the prison system.

David is a dynamic speaker; his engagements touch on subjects including cybersecurity and cyber threats, leadership and the virtues of servant leadership, building safer communities, enhancing community police trust, combating the national opioid epidemic, shaping the future and more. Known for his tireless and passionate advocacy, David speaks from the heart and displays an intrinsic understanding of a variety of topics.

 

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A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted David J. Hickton
  • UPMC
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • FBI CISO Academy
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining (NCDMM)
  • PNC Financial Services
  • Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
  • Center for Disease Control
  • St. Barnabas CEO Leadership Conference
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Confronting the Cyber Threat

Former US Attorney David Hickton, known for his cybercrime and cyber espionage indictments, takes the audience through two of his groundbreaking cyber prosecutions—and what they mean for the future. Now the founding director of Pitt Cyber, Hickton presents the inside story of his time as US Attorney ...

Former US Attorney David Hickton, known for his cybercrime and cyber espionage indictments, takes the audience through two of his groundbreaking cyber prosecutions—and what they mean for the future. Now the founding director of Pitt Cyber, Hickton presents the inside story of his time as US Attorney prosecuting state-sponsored hackers and cybercriminals, from Chinese Army officers to Russia’s most notorious hacker. He will address the shifting threat landscape and how industry and government can be better prepared to prevent, respond, and recover from cyberattacks from his perspective on the front lines of enforcement.

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Former US Attorney David Hickton saw the ravages of the opioid epidemic first hand in Pennsylvania. He co-chaired President Obama’s National Heroin Task Force and founded the US Attorney’s Working Group on Drug Overdoses and Addiction. Hickton presents a compelling overview of this critical public h ...

Former US Attorney David Hickton saw the ravages of the opioid epidemic first hand in Pennsylvania. He co-chaired President Obama’s National Heroin Task Force and founded the US Attorney’s Working Group on Drug Overdoses and Addiction. Hickton presents a compelling overview of this critical public health crisis and its implications, while sharing potential opportunities for national, state, and local solutions. He presents a unique perspective as both a tireless law enforcement officer and passionate advocate for minimizing the stigma and criminalization of addiction and improving access to treatment.

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Biography

David J. Hickton is the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security. At Pitt, Mr. Hickton also has secondary faculty appointments as professor in the the School of Law, the School of Computing and Information, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Prior to coming to Pitt, he served as United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He was nominated by former President Barack Obama on May 20, 2010, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 5, 2010. He was sworn in as the District's 57th U.S. Attorney on Aug.12, 2010.

Prior to becoming U.S. Attorney, Hickton engaged in the private practice of law, specifically in the areas of transportation, litigation, commercial and white-collar crime. He began his legal career serving as a law clerk for the Honorable U. S. District Judge Gustave Diamond from 1981 to 1983. For more than a decade, Hickton was an adjunct professor at the Duquesne University School of Law, where he taught antitrust.

A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County, Hickton has been admitted before numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. At the request of President Bill Clinton, he previously served on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Hickton has long been a staunch supporter of many civic organizations, including those that benefit children and the arts. He served as an executive board member and president of Pittsburgh Public Theater and was a member of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Mr. Hickton is a 1978 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and a 1981 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

In 2016, Pitt’s School of Law named Hickton one of its Distinguished Alumni. That same year, The Legal Intelligencer named him Pennsylvania Attorney of the Year. Hickton and his wife, Dawne, have been generous supporters of Pitt in a number of projects, including helping to establish the Loren H. Roth, MD, Summer Research Program in the School of Medicine. Pitt recognized Hickton as a Legacy Laureate in 2013 and also that year presented him with its 225th anniversary medallion, an honor bestowed on alumni who have brought particular honor to the university through their work and service.

During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Hickton’s signature achievements included: 

 Addressing the Cyber Threat 

  • Brought first of its kind indictment against five members of the Chinese military for economic espionage against Pittsburgh-based companies and organizations.
  • Created a dedicated section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to focus on cybercrime and national security.
  • Prosecuted groundbreaking cases such as Darkode, the largest English-speaking cybercrime forum, and Evgeniy Bogachev, creator of GameOver Zeus and Cryptolocker malware, among others. 

Combating the National Heroin and Opioid Crisis

  • Co-chaired the National Heroin Task Force.
  • Formed U.S. Attorney’s Working Group on Drug Overdoses and Addiction, which includes key federal, state and local law enforcement along with public health and public safety staff.
  • Brought community impact prosecutions against large-scale heroin traffickers and worked to reduce stigma, minimize the criminalization of addiction and improve access to treatment. 

Enhancing Community Police Trust

  • Assembled a Community Police Working Group in 2011 to build trust for and from law enforcement and the citizens they serve.
  • Established a civil rights section in U.S. Attorney’s Office.
  • Pittsburgh selected as one of six pilot cities for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice by Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 

Significant Civil Recovers and Achievements

  • EDMC - Achieved a historic settlement of $95.5 million, the largest False Claims Act (FCA) recovery of Department of Education funds.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Corrections – Secured fundamental changes throughout the prison system to humanely address the issues of unconstitutional confinement conditions for those suffering from serious mental illness and for victims of institutional sexual assault.
  • GameOver Zeus Botnet - Utilized civil injunctions in conjunction with criminal prosecution to dismantle a global network of infected victim computers used by cyber criminals to steal millions of dollars from businesses and consumers.