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AWS Launches 'Secret' Cloud Region for Government Spooks

Amazon Web Services (AWS) this week unveiled a new cloud region to support highly classified workloads from the CIA, NSA, FBI and other U.S. government intelligence agencies.

The so-called "Secret Region" announced Monday is part of AWS' contract with the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) that was signed in 2013 for a reported $600 million.

At the outset of the contract, AWS built a "Top Secret Region" that essentially replicated its public cloud platform in a highly secured, on-premises environment exclusively for the IC and its 17 member bodies, which include the CIA, the NSA, the FBI and the Department of Defense (DoD).

That initial Top Secret Region went live three years ago. Now, with the new Secret Region, AWS is opening its cloud beyond the IC to include U.S. government customers that are not IC members.

Enabling non-IC organizations to use the Secret Region "allows more agency collaboration, helps get critical information to decision makers faster, and enables an increase in our nation's security," said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS, in a prepared statement.

Non-IC organizations must have the appropriate levels of security clearances to use the Secret Region, according to AWS.

The Secret Region is certified to support workloads that are classified as "Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret," AWS said in its announcement. The region is designed to meet the security requirements laid out by the "Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Intelligence Community Directive (ICD 503) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53 Revision 4."

AWS has a separate cloud region, dubbed GovCloud, for public sector customers, including government agencies. The first GovCloud region opened in 2011 on the West Coast. AWS said in June that it plans to launch a second GovCloud region in the East Coast sometime next year.

Monday's announcement of the Secret Region comes just days after a report emerged that the DoD unintentionally leaked nearly 10 years' worth of Internet surveillance data on an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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