This week, Executive Vice President John Byrne, and Creative Director Elliot Berman of the AML RightSource staff talk about InfraGard, a 25-year-old partnership between the FBI and the private sector to help identify cyber threats. John and Elliot explore the value of public-private partnerships and how InfraGard has expanded from cybercrime to include terrorism, intelligence, and other matters.  

 

InfraGard - 25 Years of Partnership TRANSCRIPT

Elliot Berman: Hi John, how are you this week?

John Byrne:  Hi Elliot [I’m] doing fine, thanks. And yourself?

Elliot Berman: I'm doing well too. This week I saw something interesting. The FBI put out a press release about something called InfraGard, and the fact that it's been around for 25 years, it actually started out as a public private partnership to work on identifying cyber threats and it's celebrating its 25th anniversary. Did you happen to see that?

John Byrne: Yeah, I did. I actually have an FBI rep coming to teach my class at George Mason next week, and he mentioned InfraGard is as a key partnership tool. When this press release came out, I thought that was both interesting - I hadn't realized it was 25 years and interesting for our folks at RightSource. It started at the Cleveland field office, so the FBI got together back in 1996 with other private sector partners to deal with infrastructure - and infrastructure obviously includes a whole host of entities. And specifically for our purposes - financial services - great example of reaching out to the private sector, working together to deal with information sharing and how to do different things to protect the infrastructure.

A press release like this is interesting because they're not patting themselves on the back. They're just pointing out the value proposition of a collaboration. And it's always important, especially in our community.

Elliot Berman: Agreed. And as while we focus on the financial services component, infrastructure that is subject to cyber threats is really everywhere. The power grids control systems for air traffic control, and a wide variety of things around the country and around the world.

But it did surprise me that it's been 25 years. You feel like cyber is a little more of the state of now, but as a practical matter, it's been the state of now for a long time.

John Byrne: Right. And we thought it was relevant to talking about this today because of a couple of other things.

One is, the treasury department has just announced a series of sanctions against Russia for a number of things, obviously interfering in our elections, but also cyber-attacks. So, using that national security tool there, I thought it was important.

And then about a week or so ago, there was the annual threat assessment from the intelligence community through the office of Director of National Intelligence, which is unclassified, so you can go online and take a look at it, but there's a whole series of things in there, including updates on cyber. Concerns and one of the things related to today's announcement on sanctions, reading directly from the report, “we assess that Russia will remain a top cyber threat as it refines its espionage influence and attack capabilities”.

Elliot Berman: Yeah, that's pretty straightforward. And while there are certainly other regimes that are mentioned there, the report mentions addition to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. These come as an indication that in many ways warfare and this is a type of warfare is really shifting from to a different kind of battlefield and the need for public private partnerships, because the government does not control all of the infrastructure. And for all of us even individuals to take good care of their cyber footprints is constantly being reinforced. We just have to listen to the message.

John Byrne: Yeah. And again, I think I would urge our colleagues out there to look at the threat assessment from InfraGard, they said they have over 75,000 participants. So obviously it's beyond financial services, utilities, telecommunications. I'm sure most of our experts are already well aware but again, I think the fact that it's national - it started off regionally - now it's national. If you're not already involved in that effort, you should be.

And then of course, again, the breaking news today, we're recording this on Thursday all the all the sanctions against Russia and a whole host of things. And as you point out, obviously other countries are equally culpable on some of the cyber threats, but this is an area where in the AML world, we're not experts, but we know partnering is important.

So, our point today is simply that - continue to partner with our public sector colleagues and we become better for doing that.

Elliot Berman: Agreed. Well, you have a good rest of the week and weekend and we'll talk next week.

John Byrne: Take care Elliot.