Cybersecurity / Events / Municipal government

At RSA Conference, Maryland looks to make cybersecurity connections beyond the state

The Department of Ccommerce wants to help raise the state's profile and foster international connections at the San Francisco mega-event. Plus, one Baltimore company is organizing an IoT Village and an all-women infosec panel.

RSA 2006 was held in Japan. (Photo by Flickr user Takuya Oikawa, used under a Creative Commons license)

The annual RSA Conference in San Francisco draws tens of thousands of people working in cybersecurity, forming one of the industry’s big stages.

For a company, that can mean an opportunity to spread the word about its offerings and make some new connections.

That’s also true of the state government department involved in working with businesses.

It’s why the Maryland Department of Commerce has a team alongside companies from the state at the mega-conference running through Friday: With leadership from Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz, a team from the state department on the ground looking to raise awareness about cybersecurity activity in the state.

The state’s profile has risen with Maryland companies pitching at RSA’s much-watched Innovation Sandbox competition and efforts to increase the profile of cybersecurity within the economy here. Around this year’s conference, companies with local ties such as Contrast Security and RackTop Systems also posted splashy funding rounds. The department can help a lay foundation for more of that to happen, said Col. Ken McCreedy (ret.), the former commander of Fort Meade who now serves as senior director of the department’s cybersecurity and aerospace team.

One way it’s doing so is organizing events. Earlier this week the department hosted a reception that’s designed to educate out-of-state investors about potential opportunities in Maryland. The goal is “to reach out to West Coast capital and help get the word out about what’s going on in Maryland,” McCreedy said.

Given Maryland’s government outposts that serve as the source of much of the talent creating new companies, the department also hosted a breakfast with Rob Joyce, who serves as a senior advisor to the director of NSA and formerly coordinated cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council.

The Department of Commerce has also been involved in efforts to open up international markets to the state, and that effort extends to the global stage at RSA. The team is making an effort to meet with foreign contingents: McCreedy said Maryland has built up relations with British, Dutch and Japanese companies, and pointed out that Howard County has connections with German and Austrian companies.

“All of that is pointing towards the increased international presence here in Maryland,” he said.

bwtech@UMBC has also been involved, as the incubator formed a program that offers a landing point for companies to explore the U.S. market by way of the state. At RSA, the commerce department and incubator are hosting a pitch competition with 10 international companies on Wednesday morning.

As McCreedy pointed out, the benefits of such connections can go both ways, as the increased international presence can open up potential expansion opportunities for Maryland-based companies, as well.

There are plenty of other local companies and organizations on the ground aside from the state government, and North Baltimore-based Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) is among those providing a spot for attendees to explore new technology.

For two days on Wednesday and Thursday, ISE organized an IoT Village within the conference’s “Sandbox,” which will offer a series of demos on technology to secure smart homes, food supplies and connected offices. On Thursday, ISE’s Lisa Green is leading an all-women infosec panel on domestic abuse and IoT devices.

“People don’t consider that the connected devices we use to help enhance our quality of life, can also be misused to cause us harm if put in the wrong hands,” Green said in a statement. “We hope to bring awareness to the general public about how people face the real possibility of being abused by those misusing these devices and to educate people in ways to protect themselves in these scenarios.”

Companies: State of Maryland

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