As the Howard County Chamber of Commerce prepares for its Cyber 4.01 conference on May 29, with leadership from its new GovConnects division, headlines in the news confirm that the issue of cybersecurity is more significant than ever for government agencies and all types of businesses.
In January, the Pentagon announced that it will expand its cybersecurity force over the next several years, adding around 4,000 military and civilian positions. A five-fold increase is expected in cybersecurity positions at Fort Meade, where U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency are located.
Nearby, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) in Laurel is a leader in federally funded research on cybersecurity, as are the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
President Obama’s executive order, released in early February 2013, emphasized the importance of improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity. It also assists the private sector in understanding the nature of the threat and the importance of working with the government, rather than expecting the government to secure cyberspace for private businesses.
Operating in cyberspace is the marketplace of the future, and the challenges facing both public and private sector users of cyberspace continue to fuel a substantial cybersecurity industry in the U.S., and particularly in Maryland and the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
Cyber 4.01’s strong sponsorship support shows the regional awareness of the importance of cybersecurity from all sectors of the industry. Sponsors include Premier sponsor SAIC, Gold sponsor Northrop Grumman and Bronze sponsors LG-TEK and University of Maryland University College (UMUC).
“Public/private sector forums such as the Cyber 4.01 conference and others being developed by the chamber’s GovConnects initiative provide private technology firms with the opportunity to learn more about the government challenges and offer potential solutions,” said Maureen Thomas, executive director of GovConnects.
“Our goal is to assist regional businesses in improving access to and awareness of government contracting and increase business-to-business interaction in technology-related industries.”
Industry Rapidly Expanding
The chamber’s commitment to helping its members understand and access the government contracting environment — including opportunities in the cyber industry — led to the creation of GovConnects as a business-to-government initiative.
Business leaders from the initiative assisted in securing top-level speakers for the cyber conference and defining timely topics for discussion, with plans to take over leadership of the event next year. The conference committee has made it a priority to attract new technology companies to participate in the event.
Maryland is “in a key location to take advantage of [cybersecurity] challenges,” said Paul Gentile, senior vice president at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), during his opening remarks at the 2012 cyber conference.
Significant government agencies, large contracting companies and many smaller technology firms are located in the area surrounding the Baltimore-Washington cyber corridor, and the cybersecurity industry is growing rapidly, even as other areas are struggling in a difficult economy, he said.
SAIC has been the premier sponsor for each of the chamber’s cyber conferences. With the theme, “Private Sector Crossovers: Protecting People, Property and Information,” Cyber 4.01 will offer a series of high-profile speakers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL) on May 29, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
These experts will help attendees understand the scope of cyber threats today; strategies for combatting cyberattacks; and ways in which the private sector can work with government to protect vital information, national infrastructure and critical systems.
Speakers are confirmed from government agencies actively involved in all aspects of cybersecurity, including U.S. Cyber Command, FBI Cyber Operations and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The research community will be represented by the nationally renowned Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Topics include Dane Egli’s presentation on “Strengthening Security and Resilience in the 21st Century.”
Private industry will be represented on topics such as “Cyber Security: A Team Sport,” presented by Sherri Ramsey of CyberPoint, a former director of the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center. Charles Beard of SAIC will discuss “Solutions to Facilitate Technology.” And representatives from KCI Protection Technologies, Signals Defenses and Wilhelm Commercial Builders will explain how teams of experts test companies for weaknesses in a presentation called “Yes, You Are Vulnerable.”
Cyber 4.01 will again feature match-up opportunities between large government agencies or prime contractors and small businesses that have the capabilities for partnerships and subcontracts.
These one-on-one meetings, coordinated by conference partner Base Business Initiative (BBI), have been a highly successful part of previous conferences. Last year, 83% of the small business participants had made a second connection with a large agency or company because of their cyber conference match-up.
At last year’s conference, “Our team met some outstanding potential partners and thoroughly enjoyed the high caliber of people and the event as a whole,” said Gene Gallaher, strategic account executive with the Cyber Intelligence Division of Northrup Grumman Corporation.
Information and registration for Cyber 4.01 and details about the GovConnects initiative are online at www.HowardChamber.com.