AWS Secret Region ‘game changing’ for intelligence community, CIA official says

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Amazon Web Service’s newly announced Secret Region has “stunning” implications for the U.S. intelligence community, a senior CIA technology official said.

With the launch of the new region, which can handle federal data up to the secret level of security classification, AWS can now securely handle workloads at all levels of data classification for federal agencies, particularly those in the intelligence community. AWS is the only commercial cloud provider to claim secure workloads at each classification level.

Teresa Smetzer, director of digital futures at the CIA, said Tuesday at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, “we now have for all 16 agencies the ability to interoperate across all levels of data classification from unclassified to sensitive to secret to top secret.”

“This means for the first time we have a common set of tools, a constant flow of the latest technology and the flexibility to scale rapidly to meet mission demands,” Smetzer said. “This is a game-changing capability.”

Teresa Carlson, AWS vice president of worldwide public sector, said, “We know our customers have a broad range of classification requirements, and we’ve got to meet those. Otherwise, you really can’t take full advantage of the cloud.”

The implications, Smetzer explained, directly affects the CIA’s bottom line mission of gathering foreign intelligence to protect the nation.

“At the end of the day, that’s what CIA and the intelligence community is all about, is mission,” she said. “Cloud computing has greatly enhanced our efficiencies, our effectiveness, our ability to scale to meet demands, our ability to surge in ways we couldn’t even imagine before we had a cloud capability.”

In a technology market where the public sector notoriously struggles to keep pace with private sector disrupters, Smetzer credited CIA’s partnership with AWS with allowing the agency to “stay on par, at least, with where industry is, if not push industry farther.”

The CIA in 2013 awarded AWS a 10-year contract worth $600 million to build a cloud infrastructure for the intelligence community.

AWS, she said, “is critically important to our present and future national security.”

 

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