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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A center is vetting and sharing federal and local intelligence with Nebraska law enforcement agencies on crime trends and terrorism in cases such as the Austin bombings this month.

Analysts at the Nebraska Information Analysis Center were already disseminating information on the Austin bombings to law enforcement agencies in Nebraska before the first televised press conference linked the bombs, according to center director Lt. Kurt Von Minden.

“Most people would just say, ‘Oh a bomb went off in Austin,'” said Von Minden. “Most of us here wouldn’t look at it that way.”

The NIAC, part of the Nebraska State Patrol, is the state’s only fusion center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It started in 2007 and operates on a $1.1 million budget, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

Von Minden told the Lincoln Journal Star that the center has helped thwart attacks such as case in which hackers attempted to access open ports on two school networks. Analysts alerted the schools, which closed the ports preventing malware, identity theft or data breach, he said.

In 2015, the center also created an information sharing system that allows agencies within Nebraska to query data from other departments in their investigations. More than 60 agencies within the state have access to the network, along with federal partners, said State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas.

Information sharing keeps law enforcement from stepping on each other’s’ toes, said Von Minden. It also helps small agencies that can’t afford to hire crime analysts, he said.

He said the center offers information to non-law enforcement agencies such as energy providers to notify them of hacking threats or attacks.

Von Minden said the next challenge will be for analysts to understand crypto-currency and how it might be misused for identity theft or funding terrorism.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star,