ICS-CERT: The Role of Fusion Centers

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Infosec Island Admin

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State and major urban area fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local, tribal, territorial (SLTT), and private sector partners.

Located in states and major urban areas throughout the country, fusion centers are uniquely situated to empower front-line law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, critical infrastructure protection, and private sector security personnel to understand local implications of national intelligence, thus enabling local officials to better protect their communities.

Fusion centers provide interdisciplinary expertise and situational awareness to inform decision making at all levels of government. They conduct analysis and facilitate information sharing while assisting law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism.

There are currently 77 fusion centers located across the country. These fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local entities and receive support from federal partners in the form of deployed personnel, training, technical assistance, exercise support, security clearances, connectivity to federal systems, technology, and grant funding.

The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) leads federal coordination and support for fusion centers and has deployed over 95 personnel, including Intelligence Officers, Regional Directors, Reports Officers, and Intelligence Analysts to support fusion centers and to improve the two-way flow of information between fusion centers and the federal government.

I&A has also worked aggressively to deploy Homeland Secure Data Network (HSDN) to over 60 fusion centers. HSDN provides SECRET-level connectivity to enhance the ability of state and local partners to receive federally generated classified threat information.

By building trusted relationships and collaborating with SLTT and private sector partners, fusion centers can gather and share the information necessary to pursue and disrupt activities that may be indicators of, or potential precursors to, terrorist activity.

With timely, accurate information on potential terrorist threats, fusion centers can directly contribute to and inform investigations initiated and conducted by federal entities, such as the Joint Terrorism Task Forces led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the 2010 National Security Strategy, the federal government must continue to integrate and leverage fusion centers to enlist all of our intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security capabilities to prevent acts of terrorism on American soil.

Efforts to protect the homeland require the timely gathering, analysis, and sharing of threat-related information. Fusion centers provide a mechanism through which the federal government, SLTT, and private sector partners come together to accomplish this purpose.

For private sector partners working in critical infrastructure, fusion centers offer a local interface for reporting and receiving analytical information on threats relating to their local areas and industries. Many fusion centers can provide information relating to physical and cyber threats that impact local industries and can support efforts to develop and improve local situational awareness, which can in turn improve private sector security planning.

To find a fusion center closest to you, visit the DHS Fusion Center Locations and Contact Information website. ICS-CERT recommends that asset owners and operators contact their local fusion center to get acquainted and to better understand the role of their fusion center in supporting the private sector in critical infrastructure protection and cybersecurity.

Asset owners and operators may contact the ICS-CERT directly or work through their fusion centers to contact the ICS-CERT for assistance in mitigating cyber incidents relating to industrial control systems.

Source:  http://www.us-cert.gov/control_systems/pdf/ICS-CERT_Monthly_Monitor_March_2012.pdf

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