CARY, N.C. – Business leaders from around North Carolina are gathering in Cary today to talk about a terrifying subject that won’t show up in analysts comments or federal securities filings yet poses a threat every day.


The North Carolina Technology Association is putting on its “Leadership in a Non-Secure World” event throughout the day in Cary.

The subject matter is, as I said, scary.

Is your company prepared for the consequences of a terrorist attack?

If there is a bioterrorism incident and some pathogen is released in your community, does your firm have a plan in place not only to protect your employees but to continue to function if people can’t leave home for the office?

Are your executives secure when they are traveling, especially overseas?

I remember seeing a local, very successful and extremely rich tech executive walking to a movie theater in North Raleigh, his son matching him stride for stride. I couldn’t help but think how vulnerable he was to being taken hostage or his son being kidnapped.

Among the speakers at the conference is Erik Prince, the founder and chief executive officer of Blackwater. You probably recognize those names. Blackwater is a fast-growing security firm based in Northeastern North Carolina that has trained and sent hundreds of personnel to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other hot spots. The U.S. government and many businesses are using Blackwater because private security is seen as a necessary addition to federal and other private resources.

In the tech-heavy Triangle, cyber security gets a great deal of attention, too. Are your networks protected? SAS, Red Hat and IBM are all going to be talking about how they are dealing with malicious hackers, Web viruses, and intellectual property thieves.

As the conference closes today, Joan Myers, president of NCTA, plans to lead a panel through a contingency exercise:

Let’s say your company faces the unthinkable – a bioterrorist incident. What do you do?

Scary thought. Unthinkable? Well, who would have thought 9-11 would ever happen? And what about the recent arrests of alleged terrorists and a plot to blow up John F Kennedy Airport?

Disaster preparedness is something executives need to spend more time, energy and resources on than ever before. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the hurricane season is already underway. What if there is another Katrina?

On that sobering thought, have a nice day.