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Amazon cloud computing service offers secret cloud for US intelligence community

21 November 2017

Amazon today announced that its AWS cloud computing service now offers a new region designed  specifically for the workloads of the US intelligence community.

The AWS Secret Region can run workloads up to the ''secret'' security classification level and will complement the service's existing $600 million contract with the CIA and other agencies for running Top Secret workloads on its cloud.

AWS's announcement comes a month after Microsoft made a similar announcement. With Azure Government Secret, Microsoft's Government Cloud would also support workloads for agencies and their partners who are working with data that is classified as ''secret.''

''The US Intelligence Community can now execute their missions with a common set of tools, a constant flow of the latest technology and the flexibility to rapidly scale with the mission,'' said Teresa Carlson, vice president, Amazon Web Services Worldwide Public Sector reported. ''The AWS Top Secret Region was launched three years ago as the first air-gapped commercial cloud and customers across the U.S. Intelligence Community have made it a resounding success. Ultimately, this capability allows more agency collaboration, helps get critical information to decision makers faster, and enables an increase in our Nation's Security.''

According to commentators, the Secret Region is not quite as secret as the name implies, rather the "secret" in its name only means that it is qualified to host software and data that are classified at the "secret" level, which is right below "top secret."

The ''region'' in the name of the new service is Amazon's term for a data centre and will be just one among many regions operated by the company as part of its AWS supercomputing cloud.

The largest Amazon Web Services region is US-East-1, a facility in Northern Virginia and when it goes down, all of the apps that rely on it start to struggle, causing outages.

Amazon has actually already offered a top-secret region since 2014 million, which is basically a cloud offering Amazon built specifically for the US intelligence community as part of a $600-million deal and the new Secret Region is an extension of the same Amazon-CIA arrangement.

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