Not a day goes by that there is not a newspaper article, television news segment or elected official commenting on a security breach or the threat of cyberwarfare. From national retailers to international conflict, cyberintelligence has changed the way we live and operate our businesses.

Six years ago, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) recognized these challenges and hosted its first Cyber Conference. A lot has changed for the Chamber, and even more has changed in the cyber industry, since that initial conference at Howard Community College.

Since that time, Howard County has continued to grow as a major cyber hub as federal resources flood the region, predominantly through Fort Meade and other nearby federal agencies.

HCCC’s GovConnects program has continued to grow and has built a solid reputation for hosting quality programs featuring thought leaders from the cybersecurity, defense contracting and intelligence communities and related industries. The program has since taken over the Cyber Conference, and this year’s conference continues where last year’s left off. Cyber 6.0 was dedicated to challenges with migrating to the cloud, whereas Cyber 7.0 focuses on critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT).

What Is the Critical Infrastructure and the Internet of Things?

As society continues to become more dependent upon technology, networks and the Internet, the likelihood of security breaches rises all the more. Thus, Cyber 7.0 focuses on critical infrastructure, such as those industries pertaining to water, electricity, health care and telecommunications, just to name a few.

Just this past December, a group of hackers knocked out power to 225,000 customers in the Ukraine, leaving them without electricity for up to six hours. Ret. Brig. Gen. Gregory Touhill, Department of Homeland Security deputy assistant secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, told a group of cybersecurity leaders at the Billington Cybersecurity International Summit, “Don’t be deceived that this was only an electrical sector issue. This type of attack can happen in any critical infrastructure company across all sectors.”

Related Internet technologies are just as vital. With the ability to control networks and systems as minor as personal refrigerators and home security alarms; to major efforts such as medical devices, narcotics vaults and HVAC; the Internet of Things exposes major vulnerabilities to key facilities and systems. Consequently, many information technology and operations personnel are developing strategies to identify and manage internal threats and deficiencies.

Why Should People Attend?

Oftentimes, commercial businesses — small business in particular — see topics related to cybersecurity and quickly associate it with the federal government or major corporations. However, Microsoft estimates that, globally, more than $10 trillion in business is done in online transactions alone, accounting for 20% of revenue for companies.

Consequently, we as a society have never been more connected than we are now. Not to mention that, with smartphones and tablets permeating the marketplace, the ability to conduct business via mobile device grows monthly, leading to both new business processes and unprecedented attacks. For some businesses, it is not a matter of if they will get attacked, but when.

As such, businesses are encouraged to become knowledgeable about the various threats that exist and where they come from. Cyber 7.0 will be held on June 22 at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab’s Kossiakoff Center, in Laurel. It will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a reception from 5 to 6 p.m. Cost to attend varies; visit for more information and to register.