Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Notes from the ISSA/Infragard/ASIS Combined Meeting

Our local chapters of the ISSA, Infragard and ASIS are doing something smart: they're teaming up for quarterly joint meetings. I attended their first joint meeting this evening, and was impressed.

The first order of business after dinner was a brief introductory talk by the new SAC in charge of the local (Norfolk, VA) FBI field office, SAC Cassandra Chandler. SAC Chandler only spoke for about five minutes, but she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Infragard is an FBI-sponsored organization, and she emphasized the value that the organization provides to its members and to the FBI. I was very pleased that she pledged not only to continue to support the local chapter, but also to increase the level of support over time. By the end of her pep talk, I was ready to join myself!

The second speaker was Mr. Ron Kidd from the Regional Organized Crime Information Center in Nashville, TN. The ROCIC is one of several law enforcement related agencies that are cooperating on a project called the Automated Trusted Information Exchange (ATIX). ATIX is like a community of first responders from various government and industry first responders who get together to share information related to their particular professional "community". The idea is to help these responders prepare for disasters (natural or otherwise) by helping them keep up-to-date on current happenings that affect their field. For example, there's an ATIX community for public utilities, one for fire and rescue, etc. There was even one for the agricultural sector, with the sample page showing an article on agroterrorism.

ATIX provides its members a secure forum for posting news, information, links, articles, emails and other information of interest to first responders. Think "Internet Storm Center meets Wikipedia". A good idea, though it seems onerous to get to (you need their special access software, no doubt Windows-only) and, as the comparison to Wikipedia implies, there is essentially no fact-checking done for the information submitted by users. Still, there are useful features, like the page where you type in any cargo container ID number and it tells you the contents.

The theme for the evening was that we need more information sharing among the good guys. I agree wholeheartedly, but I was left wondering "Where are the people who make it all happen?" Our local ISSA, ASIS and Infragard chapters seem to be very management heavy, but light on the technical folks who can actually understand the issues and are in positions to do something about them. That's regrettable, and makes me wonder if these groups are having as much effect as they could.

On a side note, I did score this cool medallion from a friend of mine at the Navy Network Warfare Command, in return for a tour of our facilities. He's one of the people who "make it all happen", so I'm glad he goes to these meetings. Now if we can only get a few more like him to get out there and do some of that other kind of networking, we might have a shot at keeping ahead of the Bad Guys.


JimmytheGeek said...

Did you ever join Infragard? I did, and so far I don't see much value. Some random attack announcements and such.

I joined to provide a tech element to the local chapter, which hasn't met since I joined. I figured it would be a good place to proselytize for NSM, especially via sguil.

David Bianco said...

No, I never joined. I have attended a few of their meetings in the past, and they have been interesting. I'm not part of the "critical infrastructure" that they're trying to protect, though. Also, it's a bit difficult to get in touch with our local chapter, since they have a habit of not responding to my emails. Not sure why; I'm a nice guy!