By Jeffrey A. Franklin, Prince Law Offices P.C.
In short, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and members of the private sector for the protection of U.S. Critical Infrastructure. Through seamless collaboration, InfraGard connects owners and operators within critical infrastructure to the FBI, to provide education, information sharing, networking, and workshops on emerging technologies and threats. InfraGard’s vetted membership includes: business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, security personnel, military and government officials, IT professionals, academia and state and local law enforcement—all dedicated to contributing industry-specific insight and advancing national security. See InfraGard.
What is InfraGard?
InfraGard engages subject matter experts and addresses threat issues across each of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors recognized by Presidential Policy Directive-21 (PPD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). The 16 critical Infrastructure sectors as set forth in Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-21 are as follows:
- Commercial Facilities
- Critical Manufacturing
- Defense Industrial Base
- Emergency Services
- Financial Services
- Food and Agriculture
- Government Facilities
- Healthcare and Public Health
- Information Technology
- Nuclear Reactors, Materials and Waste
- Transportation Systems
- Water and Wastewater Systems
Critical infrastructures are those systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters, as defined in Section 1016(e) of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, 42 U.S.C. § 5195c(e).
Key resources are publicly or privately controlled resources essential to the minimal operations of the economy and government. The destruction of these individual targets would not only endanger security on a national scale, but would also create local disaster or profoundly damage national morale, as defined in Section 2(9) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, 6 U.S.C. § 101(9).
The mission of InfraGard is to promote ongoing dialogue and timely communication between members and the FBI specifically concerning the security of, vulnerabilities in, and threats to critical infrastructure entities. InfraGard members are provided with information to assist them in protecting critical infrastructure assets. In turn, they are encouraged to provide information to the FBI, thereby facilitating its responsibilities to detect, deter, and investigate acts of terrorism and other crimes. Because of the focus and purpose of InfraGard, its members are required to be affiliated with at least one critical infrastructure sector and, as part of the application process, applicants must pick a primary affiliation sector.
As Americans, our lifestyle, economy, and national security are supported by a complex framework of businesses and services. The central role of these critical infrastructures and key resources (CIKR), makes them especially vulnerable as targets for both physical and cyber attacks.
The mission of the FBI is to protect the American people and uphold the U.S. Constitution. Its vision is to remain ahead of the threat through leadership, agility and integration. In an era where threats to our country and risks to private enterprise are escalating and intersecting, building mutual respect and cooperation between the FBI and the private sector has never been more important.
The majority of infrastructure in the U.S. is owned and operated by the private sector; therefore, cultivating partnerships and incorporating key industry stakeholders is crucial to support the government in protecting critical infrastructure.
lnfraGard provides a vehicle for seamless public/private collaboration; expedites the timely exchange of information; and promotes mutual learning opportunities relevant to CIKR defense.
The InfraGard Members Alliance (IMA) leverages the expertise of a wide range of private sector partners who own, operate, and hold key positions within approximately 85% of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
With thousands of vetted members nationally, InfraGard’s subject matter experts include business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, military and government officials, IT professionals, security personnel, academia, and state and local law enforcement—each dedicated to contributing industry-specific insight and advancing national security. Through this partnership, both the FBI and private sector gain an improved understanding of the threatscape and share valuable intelligence.
- Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
- Applicant must be a U.S. Citizen (U.S. Citizen by birth as defined by 8 USC 1401-1409 or a U.S. Citizen by Naturalization as defined by 8 USC 1421-1459).
- Applicant must complete the InfraGard Membership Application Form in its entirety.
- Applicant must agree with the InfraGard Information Sharing Policy, Privacy Act Statement, Agreements to Hold Harmless and Code of Ethics.
- Applicant must consent to a security risk assessment and to periodic re-confirmation of the security risk assessment. The risk assessment is a membership vetting process completed by the FBI which includes local, state, and federal criminal history and driver’s license, citizenship, and other security-related database checks.
- Access to InfraGard’s Secure Web Portal: www.infragard.org
- FBI accredited website with secure messaging that promotes communication among members
- FBI and DHS threat advisories, intelligence bulletins, analytical reports, and vulnerability assessments in real time
- Access to iGuardian, the FBI’s cyber incident reporting tool designed specifically for the private sector Unique Networking Opportunities
- FBI and other government agency presentations to InfraGard Member Alliance events
- Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
- Peer-to-peer collaboration across InfraGard’s broad membership
- Information sharing and relationship building with FBI and law enforcement at all levels Training and Education
- Information Sharing Initiative (ISI) training program
- FBI and other government security awareness training programs
- Local and online training and event discounts
- Free or discounted local seminars and conferences
With 79 chapters, InfraGard has a chapter for you. Chapters conduct local meetings pertinent to their area. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have three chapters, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg). Your author has benefited from and enjoyed being a member of the Philadelphia Chapter of InfraGard.
It is free to join and most events are reasonably priced.
Want to Learn More or Apply for Membership?
Jeffrey A. Franklin heads the Cyber Law group at Prince Law Offices P.C. and is vice chair of the PBA Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee. He is also past-president and Technology Committee chair of the Berks County Bar Association and principal technology consultant with BrightLine Tech Solutions LLC.