A collaboration among information security leaders in government, industry and academia has launched in Massachusetts with the goal of developing new data defense tactics.

Dubbed the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC), the operation will be based at the Bedford, Mass. campus of MITRE, a nonprofit that explores new technologies for government and private industry clients. The initiative will also operate out of five colleges in the state – MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts.

The facility will draw on guidance from expert practitioners in health care, energy, defense, financial services and technology to share best practices, conduct real-time threat analysis and develop next-generation secure computing architecture.

The effort was initiated by Mass Insight Global Partnerships (MIGP), a Boston-based consulting and research firm. Its particular interest is in "pre-competitive centers to create a neutral space for academics to work on joint projects with government and private enterprises," William Guenther, MIGP's president, told SCMagazineUS.com on Wednesday.

"This is a perfect alignment between businesses and research universities in the state to develop more effective defense strategies," he said. "This partnership is expanding the talent pipeline in New England and encouraging information sharing to increase defense capabilities."

What makes the center unique, he said, is the sharing of threat information across a variety of organizations.

The announcement is timely, as Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, announced on Tuesday that nearly a third of Massachusetts residents have been victimized by data theft since the start of 2010 – this, despite state lawmakers recently implementing one of the strictest information protection laws in the country. The regulations require minimum standards for businesses to protect personal information.

At present, the group of founders for the Advanced Cyber Security Center is comprised of 16 charter members, including major insurance, financial and utilities companies in the state, which have provided capital for the initial launch.

The center plans to increase its member base to around 30 by next year and install a permanent staff.