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InfraGard: A Partnership That Works

InfraGard
A Partnership That Works   

03/08/10

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InfraGard has 85 chapters with more than 35,000 members nationwide helping to protect and defend critical infrastructure.

One member gave us information about a financial institution victimized by an online banking fraud in which large sums of money were moved in and out of the company’s accounts. Another let us know about an intrusion into a computer system that resulted in the defacement of a number of state agency websites. A third convinced a U.S. business to contact us when it was hit with an “SQL injection” attack that inserted code into its website, enabling crooks to gain access to a company database with customer orders and credit card numbers.

In each of these cases—and many more like them—a member of an FBI-sponsored initiative called InfraGard made a difference by sharing valuable information that benefited our investigations, the organizations involved, and the larger community.

That’s precisely the point of the program, which brings together representatives from the private and public sectors to help protect our nation’s critical infrastructure and key resources from attacks by terrorists, criminals, and others who wish us harm.

It’s a partnership that makes sense, since most U.S. infrastructure components—like utility companies, transportation systems, telecommunication networks, water and food suppliers, public health, and financial services—are privately owned and operated.

Early focus on cyber crime. InfraGard began in our Cleveland office in 1996 as a way to share information with local information technology (IT) experts and academia in support of our cyber investigations. We passed along what we knew about cyber intrusions and crime trends to our partners to help them secure their facilities and computer networks. And our partners shared with us their IT expertise and information they had on possible cyber crimes.

The program proved so successful that we replicated it in each of our 56 field offices…and expanded its initial focus on cyber crime to include terrorism, intelligence, criminal, and security matters.

Today’s broader focus. Now, 85 InfraGard chapters with a total of more than 35,000 members work with us through our field offices to ward off attacks against critical infrastructure that can come in the form of computer intrusions, physical security breaches, or other methods. These members represent state, local, and tribal law enforcement, academia, other government agencies, communities, and private industry.

At the chapter level, members meet to discuss threats and other matters that impact their companies. The meetings—led by a local governing board and an FBI agent who serves as InfraGard coordinator—give everyone an opportunity to share experiences and best practices.

InfraGard members have access to an FBI secure communications network featuring an encrypted website, web mail, listservs, and message boards. The website plays an integral part in our information-sharing efforts: we use it to disseminate threat alerts and advisories. We also use it to send out intelligence products from the Bureau and other agencies—last year, we posted more than 1,000 of them, and we recently gave InfraGard members the ability to offer feedback.

Dr. Kathleen Kiernan, chairman of the InfraGard national board of directors, said, “The information and intelligence flows seamlessly between everyone involved, a great testament to selfless public service.”

And in terms of our investigative efforts, over the past few years we have opened hundreds of cases as a result of information provided by InfraGard members and have received assistance on more than 1,000 others.

If you’re interested in joining this cause, go to InfraGard’s public website or contact your local FBI field office.

Resources:
- Cyber Division
- InfraGard