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New Partnership to Help Fusion Centers Streamline Intelligence Gathering, Dissemination

The partnership between the National Fusion Center Association and cybersecurity firm FireEye means that fusion centers nationwide will gain threat landscape visibility on a global scale, as well as in their individual states or regions.

The nation’s 78 fusion centers have a new partner in the private sector. Cybersecurity firm FireEye announced July 16 a partnership with the National Fusion Center Association (NFCA) that will provide new resources to states and municipalities across the nation, and lead to the development of a new intelligence exchange network in California.

FireEye Chief Security Strategist Chad Holmes says the new partnership means his firm will help fusion centers streamline their intelligence gathering and dissemination. 

“It not only gives them visibility into the threat landscape that we see on a global scale, but it also gives them information that they can use in their individual states or regions,” Holmes said. “It really gives them a better position or visibility around that cyberthreat landscape.”

Fusion centers often provide assistance in times of crisis, like during a cyberattack by another nation, hackers looking for valuable information or a politically motivated group. Many of today’s fusion centers were created between 2003 and 2007 under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice to promote information sharing in the face of growing threats in the cyberlandscape.

“For example,” Holmes said, “if it’s a hacktivist group like Anonymous going after a PD or if it’s something like a Ferguson issue where you have these hacktivists going after their local area infrastructure, we’re able to partner with them and provide counterintelligence around these individuals that may help them predict some of the behavior and block some of their activities during these situations.”

In addition to FireEye’s national partnership, the firm will also work with the California State Threat Assessment Center to develop what it calls an Automated Threat Intelligence Exchange Network (ATIX).

“It consists of six of the regional intelligence centers," Holmes said, "and what we’re doing [in California] is providing not just intelligence, but also technology that they can utilize to streamline their operations and their efficiencies. So now it gives them a better visibility into the threat landscape against their state, and it helps them provide a mechanism to practice and disseminate this threat intelligence down to their partners and their agencies in a real-time fashion."

The NFCA and FireEye will also create weeklong training sessions for cyberanalysts in each fusion center region. According to a FireEye press release, training will focus on “cyberintelligence gathering, curating information and creating cyberintelligence products for dissemination.”

Sharing data quickly is crucial to responding to cyberthreats effectively, NFCA Executive Director W. Ross Ashley III said in the press release. “The support FireEye provides at every level of government has proven invaluable in helping us to produce and share critical intelligence in order to keep our states secure."

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.