For the past few weeks, one evening a week, I have been attending the FBI Citizens’ Academy in Los Angeles learning about the inner workings of the FBI. Among the programs the FBI has set up is InfraGard in which the Bureau works with the business community and others to share information in hopes of thwarting attacks against physical and cyber infrastructure in the country.

InfraGard is a government/private/public sector alliance. The program is designed to allow businesses, academic institutions, local law enforcement and the Bureau to combine knowledge and share information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. In other words, the FBI is asking members of the community to use their expertise and be the eyes and ears in protecting America.

There are four InfraGard chapters in California: San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. Each center covers wide areas of the state. You can find info on the local chapters here.

The goal of InfraGard is to allow members to swap information regarding threats to critical infrastructure and other vulnerable areas of the economy. Infrastructure in this sense is more than roads, bridges and canals. For example, the Los Angeles Chapter Sectors include: Banking, Chemical, Communication, Defense, Nuclear, Education, Emergency & Health Services, Energy, Entertainment, Food & Agriculture, Government, Information Technology, Transportation, Water and Commercial Facilities.

Businesses and other organizations interested in being part of the team must fill out an application, which includes FBI screening. The FBI provides a Special Agent as an InfraGard Coordinator who interacts with members of the group.

Those who choose to join determine the level of participation (active, passive or a leadership role.) Besides having an FBI Agent representative, members receive prompt dissemination of threat warnings, a forum for members to communicate, and help in protecting computer systems.

The members use a secure website for sharing information. The Alert Network has a mechanism to voluntarily notify the FBI in the event of a physical of cyber attack.

Those interested in joining this program can investigate at the Internet sites provided above. More on the FBI Citizens’ Academy in future posts.