Arizona InfraGard began as InfraGard Phoenix in 2000, when the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) located at FBI Headquarters mandated all FBI field offices develop local InfraGard chapters. In response, the FBI Office in Phoenix sent out invitations to security and industry leaders to attend a rollout meeting on May 9, 2000. At that event an admiral serving as an NIPC assistant director and a provisional national board member from Ohio announced the chapter’s foundation and explained its mission. About forty-five individuals from industries such as banking, energy, defense, and information technology, along with representatives from several government agencies heard presentations on the importance of information sharing and infrastructure protection.
A month later a group of about six people from business and government met with the first FBI InfraGard coordinator, Special Agent Thomas Liffiton, to begin the process of organizing a chapter. What took place in Phoenix mirrored national InfraGard developments over the next three years. Dedicated private sector volunteers, local FBI InfraGard coordinators, and the national InfraGard leaders were in a conversation to develop a working relationship based on trust and commitment to a common goal, the mutual sharing of information to protect the United States.
The Phoenix chapter devised a mission statement, began holding regular meetings, and began spreading the word to attract members. An early victory occurred when the State of Arizona, through the Government Information Technology Agency (GITA), declared all state agencies would be affiliated with InfraGard. With new members from the private sector to the FBI, the InfraGard conversation centered on how to refine the communication process to share security information more effectively. Following the terrorist attack of 9/11 in 2001, many InfraGard members telephoned the FBI to offer their assistance, and everyone better understood the need for information sharing.
The chapter grew steadily under the direction of its first presidents. Under Ron Alred who came from the banking technology sector (2001 – 2003), the chapter developed a presence through regular meetings around the Valley. Eventually, the University of Advancing Technology graciously provided a base, which helped consistency. The attendance at meetings varied widely from fifteen to nearly one hundred, depending on the topic presented. Wells Fargo’s Dean Farrington spoke to a select group of people on honey pots. A Department of Justice attorney from Washington, DC attracted over ninety people to hear about the recently enacted PATRIOT Act. Eighty-five attended a presentation by two wireless war drivers, followed by state and federal attorneys discussing the legal issues involved. When the opportunity presented itself, the Phoenix chapter also promoted events such as the 2002 Town Hall meeting on Cyber Security held at ASU. A crowd of several hundred Arizonans heard Officials of the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board discuss the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. Organizationally the InfraGard board worked diligently to hammer out bylaws led by Lee Lane, Security Manager of the Arizona State Department of Administration.
With Lois Lehman of Arizona State University (2003 – 2005) as president, the chapter grappled with the difficulties of transitioning to a new membership requirement. All members, old and new, were to undergo background checks by the FBI. In addition, to remain a chapter, Phoenix would have to be granted 501 (c)(3) or Not For Profit status by the Internal Revenue Service. Outstanding help in this area came from the pro bono efforts of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite. The requirement for security checks initially caused membership numbers to sink, but ultimately took the chapter to a higher level by inspiring a new measure of member trust and pride. Monthly meetings were well attended with such speakers as Brigitte Dufour of the Arizona Department of Health Services moderating presentations on aspects of pandemic disease. A dynamic presentation by Kristy Westphal and Melissa Guenther in Phoenix and Kelley Bogart over a telecom from Tucson explained the strategy and mechanics behind the highly successful information security training programs at the University of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Economic Security. The presenters worked hard to pass along useful information.
When Dr. Christopher T. Pierson (2005 – 2007) became president, the chapter began producing its monthly newsletter to communicate ideas and the InfraGard brand more clearly. As a member of the Governor’s Homeland Security Council, Chris was instrumental in bringing InfraGard into a partnership with the Arizona Counterterrorism Information Center (ACTIC), which in turn led to the present collaboration, which includes the Arizona Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). Regular general meetings with topics covering a variety of infrastructure sectors began to bring a more varied membership to the organization. A meeting featuring Gary Warner, the nationally known phish fighter, along with the head of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, was featured to appeal to the Banking and Finance sector. Limiting attendees to member’s only and verified industry representatives added value to the meeting. Membership in InfraGard Phoenix passed the 400 mark.
Under the leadership of Frank Grimmelmann the chapter was expanded to include the entire state of Arizona, hence the name change to Arizona InfraGard. Grimmelmann’s drive and vision has developed a very active Board, numerous special events that have included counterterrorism insights and leading Federal Law Enforcement presenters and a growth in membership to over 1,250 as of May 2012.
The growth of Arizona InfraGard has been a team effort with much of the burden shouldered by the officers and the board members, a small group of people working to make the country more safe and secure. Jim Young of Solutions and Linda Eisner of GITA were very strong advocates in the very early days. Jim Groark, also an early board member when he was with Arizona Public Service, contributed greatly to the mission, as did Jenny Li, who took the web site to new heights. Lisa Ketring of Boeing, Jerry Crow of EDS, and Maryann Matuska, of Wells Fargo, did much to push the program forward. In the ranks of the FBI, several supervisors and agents supported the program both inside the FBI and to the public. It is impossible to give credit to everyone involved since 2000 in InfraGard Phoenix, both private and public sector individuals. Some of those individuals were responsible for assisting FBI investigations, providing information which led to cases or providing technical expertise to advance a case. All have left their mark and have helped give birth to an organization that can truly make the United States more safe and secure.
History of the National Organization
The National InfraGard Program began as a pilot project in 1996, when the Cleveland FBI Field Office asked local computer professionals to assist the FBI in determining how to better protect critical information systems in the public and private sectors. From this new partnership, the first InfraGard Chapter was formed to address both cyber and physical threats.
The NIPC, in conjunction with representatives from the private industry, the academic community, and the public sector, further developed the “InfraGard” initiative to expand direct contacts with the private sector infrastructure owners and operators and to share information about cyber intrusions, exploited vulnerabilities, and infrastructure threats. The initiative, encouraging the exchange of information by government and private sector members, continued to expand through the formation of additional InfraGard chapters, within the jurisdiction of each FBI Field Office. As of this date, all 56 field offices of the FBI have opened an InfraGard chapter, with hundreds of company members across the nation.