In these days of international intrigue, prolific hackers and terrorism, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development certainly has landed a timely speaker for this fall’s InfoTech 2003.

A.B. Krongard, the executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency who is known as “Buzzy”, is one of two keynote speakers.

Krongard is a top aide to George Tenet, the CIA’s director and a primary figure leading the United States’ war against terror.

Also speaking will be Matthew Szulik, the chairman and chief executive officer of Red Hat. Given the ongoing legal battles regarding Unix and open source software, Szulik’s selection also is very timely.

The outbreak of another major virus attack this week — same song, same verse, i.e. exploiting a weakness in a software product — should remind every one of us about the threat to the nation’s cyber security as well as our traditional infrastructure.

Efforts to ward off hackers who have criminal, terrorist or simple warped fun in mind have stumbled. The Bush Administration has stumbled with its effort to create a thorough, comprehensive plan to combat online terror. Just as with any legislation, businesses are out to protect their own interests, be it fighting the costs involved to build a secure electronic firewall around this country, its citizens and businesses, or making sure someone doesn’t gain some sort of unfair advantage.

I’m afraid the only thing that will wake American executives and politicians enough out of their “cyberstupor” to the true danger lurking on PCs either in Silicon Valley or a foreign country is another catastrophic event such as 9-11-01.

If Wall Street were to be “crashed” for a week and billions of dollars of financial records wiped out, would people finally put aside petty differences and get to root solutions?

Getting someone of Krongard’s stature to come to RTP gives local executives and people interested in technology to hear what’s happening at the international level about terrorism of all kinds. Let’s hope that the CED ensures that he reserves time for a thorough question-and-answer session.

Before joining the CIA, Krongard served in a number of senior executive positions with investment banking firm Alex Brown Inc. and later with Bankers Trust Corporation after Alex Brown merged with that corporation. Krongard is responsible for managing the CIA on a day-to-day basis.

Can you imagine what his “in” box looks like?

And wouldn’t you like to see what’s put in the “out” box?

FYI, here’s how the CIA describes his job: “The Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is A.B. Krongard. Assisted by an Executive Board that counts among its membership five mission centers with duties that enable the Agency to carry out its mission – Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, Security, Human Resources and Global Support – the EXDIR manages the CIA on a day-to day basis.”

Szulik on the mark

As for Szulik, if you haven’t heard him speak before be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.

Szulik doesn’t speak from a prepared text, but his extemporaneous remarks truly are enlightening about the state of technology, Linux and open source software, venture financing, challenges facing the public school systems, and the kind of skills people need to develop these days if they want to work here and convince employers to hire locally rather than outsourcing more jobs to Vietnam, India, China, Russia and who knows where else.

The 13th annual InfoTech event is set for Oct. 27 at the Sheraton Imperial in RTP. Assisting the CED with the event this year are UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, MCNC, and The Indus Entrepreneurs, Carolinas chapter.

The presenting companies

Here are the 19 companies selected to participate in InfoTech 2003:

  • Chorus Systems Inc., RTP, NC
  • Croquet, Cary, NC
  • Diet Download (North Carolina State University), Raleigh, NC
  • Elixar, Inc., RTP, NC
  • Futures for Kids, Raleigh, NC
  • Hatteras Networks/Access Class Ethernet, RTP, NC
  • iAdvantage Software,Inc., Cary, NC
  • IBM Pervasive Computing Division, RTP, NC
  • Interactive Multimedia Solutions, Inc., Apex, NC
  • InnerOptic Technology Inc., Hillsborough, NC
  • Mobile Data Tools, Inc., Winston-Salem, NC
  • Polyglot Systems, Inc., Durham, NC
  • Research Triangle Software, Cary, NC
  • RolloverSystems, Inc., Charlotte, NC
  • StrikeIron,Inc., Durham, NC
  • To The Point Innovations, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Trebax, Inc., Morrisville, NC
  • TrialCard Inc., Cary, NC

For information about InfoTech 2003, visit:

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.