Amazon is finally taking the wraps off a cloud service that was in development three years ago. The Amazon Web Services Secret Region (AWS), a service that developed in collaboration with the CIA.
It will be the first and only commercial cloud pegged to help government agencies, access of which is limited to people with the right security clearance. The cloud service is part of an existing $600 million contract with the U.S. intelligence agencies according to a report by the Washington Post.
Plenty of Security Concerns
With the rise of cloud computing, AWS should be a big boost to government workloads which will be able to access a wide range of classified data. Unclassified, sensitive, secret and Top Secret information are just some of them.
Considering the sensitivity of the data contained in the Amazon cloud, the timing of its reveal is a bit off. Just recently, vulnerabilities to the Amazon cloud services came out in the open and the same could happen to AWS. With highly sensitive data, breaches and leaks have a high probability if not given the right level of security.
The service is already available to select agencies, and a report from ZDNet claims that AWS, along with Microsoft Azure has already complied with the rigorous security requirements. The security standards are set forth by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to determine the right level of authorization for agencies and users.
Tying up loose ends
The reveal of the AWS is something to look forward to, hopefully accounting for better monitoring of sensitive data stored on the Amazon servers. It is indeed a first but something that hackers and spies will likely try to crack.
The necessary security levels are set. However, hackers are expected to carry out their mischief and try to breach servers. Despite claims that Amazon and intelligence agencies have already collaborated to cover the security front, maintaining security does not stop there.
For Amazon, the need to carefully monitor access to the files may be needed. Even if there are specific security levels set, the fact remains that they need to keep track of the people who are accessing the data. It is a practice that they need to do over and over since hacks or leaks can happen anytime.
Smoother missions, familiar interface
Aside from the leaks and security concerns, AWS will now give federal agencies the option of moving classified data on AWS. Missions can now be carried with an advanced set of new tools and have better collaboration with organizations.
According to the Business of Federal Technology, the AWS Secret Region will also be available to non-IC U.S. groups. However, they need the proper secret-level network access and contract vehicles to use it. For the ones who are already using the AWS Top Secret Region, transitioning to the Secret Region interface should not be a problem. It offers the same set of tools and workflows, meaning significant adjustments may not be needed.