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News Analysis

State public service commissions are insisting that utilities adopt risk management programs, and are allowing less pass-through for those that don't.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 2002

threat and incident information obtained from investigation, intelligence collection, foreign liaison, and private sector cooperation. This perspective ensures that no single 'community' addresses threats to critical infrastructures in a vacuum; rather, all information is examined for its potential for simultaneous application to security, defense, counterintelligence, terrorist or law enforcement matters," Dick says.

Thinking Nationally, Acting Locally

As an outgrowth of the NIPC program, InfraGuard, a grass-roots private/public organization was formed and held its first national meeting in June 2001, to help utilities share information with local and regional law enforcement agencies, among other entities. "The NIPC has developed InfraGuard into the largest government/private sector joint partnership for infrastructure protection in the world," says Dick. "We have taken it from its humble roots of a few dozen members in just two states to its current membership of over 2,000 partners," he says. To cover the country, "local InfraGuard chapters (are) within the jurisdiction of each of the 56 FBI field offices and several of its resident agencies (subdivisions of the larger field offices)," he says. "InfraGuard provides its membership the capability to write an encrypted sanitized (the sender's identity can be masked) report for dissemination to other members," he notes.

InfraGuard and the NIPC also are tapping into global expertise for security enhancement in the United States. Apart from relationships with a dozen U.S. agencies, the NIPC also includes member groups from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. "The NIPC has established information sharing connectivity with a number of foreign cyber watch centers, including in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. And, we continue to take advantage of the FBI's global presence through its legal attache offices in 44 nations," Dick says.

Commenting in May 2001 on a U.S. General Accounting Office analysis of the NIPC, Dick notes, "The NIPC, under the authority of the FBI, is the only locus where law enforcement, counterintelligence, foreign intelligence, and private sector information may be lawfully and collectively analyzed and disseminated, all under well-developed statutory protections and the oversight of the Department of Justice."

The electric utility sector was the first to develop a close working relationship with the NIPC, establishing a model for other sectors of the U.S. economy to follow. "Over the past two years the NIPC and NERC-the ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center) for the electric power sector-have established an indications, analysis, and warning program, which makes possible the timely exchange of information valued by both the NIPC and the electric power sector, Dick says.

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