The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC, then part of the FBI, but since subsumed by the Department of Homeland Security) was tasked by PDD 63 to coordinate the sharing centers that would represent various sectors (e.g., Transportation, Food, Energy, Telecommunications, Information Technology, etc.). Several people involved in security at Indiana University saw that Higher Education was NOT represented in the initial structure of sectors being described by the NIPC, and so would not participate in (or benefit from) this sharing scheme. Then-Indiana University Vice President and Chief Information Officer Michael McRobbie met with Admiral James Plehal, then-Director of the NIPC, and discussed the situation. Subsequent interactions between Indiana University, EDUCAUSE, and Internet2, with Richard Clarke and others in US government lead to discussions of developing higher education representation. Concurrently, EDUCAUSE and Internet2 both identified a formal sharing mechanism an important component of the higher education security approach.

Indiana University has invested greatly in the areas of "information and infrastructure assurance." In addition, as operator of the Global Research Network Operations Center (GR-NOC), Indiana University has a unique view of various national and international R&E networks, including Internet2 and National Lambda Rail (NLR). Because of these network relationships, Indiana University necessarily has some of the best network engineers in the US. The Service Desk of the GR-NOC monitors the networks for which Indiana University has management responsibility 24x7, including network instrumentation and other sources of specific information about security events.

Indiana University was a charter member of the EDUCAUSE & Internet2 Computer and Network Security Task Force.

It was due to these competencies, relationships, and functions, along with a desire on the part of Indiana University to improve security locally and in the higher education community, that the first ISAC serving higher education - the Research and Education Networking ISAC (REN-ISAC) - is based at Indiana University. Hosting the REN-ISAC (as a participant in the national ISAC structure) at Indiana University was formalized in D.C. on February 21, 2003.

Subsequently, the REN-ISAC was identified as a component of an emphasis on operational security by, and as an enhancement of security services already provided by Indiana University to the Internet2 community. EDUCAUSE has identified the REN-ISAC as a primary component of the joint EDUCAUSE/Internet2 effort to improve security across higher education. The REN-ISAC will, where possible and feasible, work in conjunction with these efforts to further the general goals of improving security across the higher education community.