Amazon Launches 'Secret' Cloud Service For Intelligence Agencies

Amazon Web Services Secret Region expands after some troubling cloud security screwups.

Amazon is launching a “secret” cloud service for U.S. intelligence agencies, developed three years ago with the CIA.

Amazon Web Services Secret Region “can operate workloads up to the Secret U.S. security classification level,” Amazon said in a statement Monday. “AWS becomes the first and only commercial cloud provider to offer regions to serve government workloads across the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret and Top Secret.”

Other personnel from government departments and contractors with security clearance also can access the “secret region,” the company said.

The service debuts after the exposure of vulnerabilities in Amazon cloud services. Last week, information collected by the Pentagon in AWS cloud databases was exposed online for anyone to see. The databases contained at least 1.8 billion internet posts collected over eight years by intelligence agencies from news sites, comment sections, web forums and social media. In May, an engineer at defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton left some 60,000 files linked to a Pentagon program on an Amazon server accessible to the public, Gizmodo reported.

Six years ago Amazon launched AWS GovCloud, its first data-center region for the public sector.

Amazon inked a $600 million so-called spook cloud contract with the CIA in 2013 to help the agency build its own private cloud system. The massive classified data storage was up and running by 2014. Rolling out the service to other agencies is part of that contract.

“This had never been done before,” said CIA chief information officer John Edwards. “We put an entire Amazon cloud region on our space, in our premises. It was risky; neither side new how it was going to turn out.”

To operate a platform guarding the nation’s secret data, Amazon must comply with security standards monitored by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The new service is immediately available to intelligence agencies, reports ZD Net.

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