Agora was founded in October 1995 by the Regence Group as a "virtual" forum for members to voluntarily and confidentially share sensitive information on computer security issues. It is a Seattle, Washington, based forum for the sharing of information related to improving computer security through countering computer intrusions and apprehending computer criminals.
Agora is composed of more than 300 people from approximately 100 companies and 45 Government agencies, including Microsoft, Blue Shield, the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as local police, county prosecutors, and computer professionals from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana.
Members share information on common computer security problems, best practices to counter them, protecting electronic infrastructures, and educational opportunities. Strategies and new methods for countering and apprehending computer criminals are shared among members. Members also have conducted intrusion testing against one another to further share security information.
Trusted relationships among members facilitate the sharing of information, particularly among private companies who are competitors. In addition, the local scope of Agora has facilitated the building of relationships that make the sharing of information more successful. Members sign nondisclosure agreements before discussing information related to the intricacies of their respective computer security systems. Members share information through meetings and via public and private communications lines, both formally and informally.