Robert Francis: Finding common ground in memories of 9/11

We weren’t three strangers, but it was the first time we had met in person. What we had in common is that we were about to take the stage to talk about cybersecurity. We also found that we were not quite strangers in terms of the road we had traveled to get to the Hurst Conference Center on Sept. 9.

I was the moderator. Though I have written reams of copy about cybersecurity, my expertise is wafer thin. The other panelists had more hands-on experience in the cybersecurity field.

Those experts included Brett Leatherman, Supervisory Special Agent in the Dallas division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He focuses on cybersecurity, and having worked with him on two panels on the subject I’ve seen firsthand that he knows his stuff.

Unlike many involved in government work, he is also an excellent communicator. That’s why he was on the panel.

The other expert was Michael Moore, founder and CEO of managed service provider M3 Networks in Southlake. He is passionate about cybersecurity.

We had all done a webinar on the same subject earlier this year, and Michael has written several columns for the Business Press raising awareness about computer security issues.

We knew each other, as I said, but this was in person, a chance to learn a bit about each other. The panel was part of a luncheon at the HEB Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 9.

As we waited for the program to begin, slides were informing members of various events planned in the future. There was also a slide commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a day that changed the way we live. It also changed many of our lives.

The slide prompted the FBI agent to talk about how the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were a motivation in leading him to his current career. Michael and I told somewhat similar stories. Even though we were not directly involved, 9/11 did change us and the trajectory of our lives, whether we realized it at the time or not. A ripple effect with the center being the haunting image of those two burning World Trade Center towers on a bright, sun-drenched New York morning that – prior to 8:46 a.m. – had been full of promise.

I found their stories intriguing, so I asked the two…