The cyber conference world continues to grow. There are several dozen cyber-specific events in the next few weeks. This is indicative of a couple things. First, it shows the entire cyber field is still growing unabated and that we are taking it seriously, and second, it shows that lots of conference builders are riding the train.

I am not completely “diss-ing” this trend. I attend lots of these events, and some are excellent. Others are not. One must be selective about what one attends and in what you allow yourself to participate. Let one person call you a cyber “expert” (a very relative term that no one should “wear” easily), and you will be inundated with invitations. Some will be to speak and others will be to pay ridiculous amounts of money to attend and listen to other experts expound.

These can be very helpful. The expertise and knowledge of others has taught me a great deal. It has helped me fill in my own considerable gaps in knowledge. Cyber is such a big area, and is tied into so many other areas (financial sector, homeland security, other critical infrastructure, etc.), that one can constantly go to conferences.

Anyway, I am trying to be more selective in my attendance, and I am still quite busy. Next week, I fly to Maxwell AFB in Alabama to participate in the Air Force’s excellent Cyber Operations Executive Course (16 May). This is a small group professional development event held a few times a year for AF 3 and 4 star generals. It is now being opened to other services and provides a truly executive-level view of cyber issues that will affect these senior leaders. They are not in specific cyber-related commands, but they badly need knowledge in the major issues. It is an excellent initiative, and I am proud to play a part in it, providing an industry point of view for these key public servants.

The next day (17 May), I fly back to DC and go directly to a downtown restaurant for an event hosted by the Homeland Security & Defense Business Council. They are conducting a series of Executive Lunches with major policy players. I will be the moderator / questioner for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, the Honorable Paul Stockton. We will discuss the key role his office plays in the management of DoD’s role in supporting the wide range of missions in the homeland. Cyber, border issues and disaster relief will all be covered, as will critical infrastructure protection. If I do my job well, we should learn quite a bit about important work Stockton and his folks do.

The day after that (18 May), I will attend and participate in a conference on Cyber Terrain at the Spy Museum downtown. One of the most interesting museums in a city of great museums, the Spy Museum makes a great venue for the discussion of Cyber Issues. James Woolsey will give the lunchtime keynote, and my panel begins after that. Several of the participants are fellow members of a group known as the Cyber Loop. This is an invitation only and very interesting Web group that includes some pretty significant experts (ones that really do deserve the name) in the field of cyber. The quality of the participants in the event is high, and I plan on learning a great deal.

OK, I am not whining. I don’t mind being busy when the business is all positive, helpful events. These all fall into that category. After these activities, I am pretty sure I will have something to share. More to follow upon my return.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More