AWS unveils “Secret Region” cloud service for U.S. Intelligence Community

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently debuted a cloud service for the U.S. Intelligence Community dubbed “Secret Region,” accessible only to those with a secret level classification from the government. With the launch of Secret Region, AWS is the first commercial cloud provider to serve government workloads across the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret and Top Secret.

Secret Region should not be conflated with GovCloud, a data-center region for public-sector customers that AWS introduced about six years ago. The company also landed a $600 million contract with the CIA in 2013, which helped its cloud gain prominence among larger companies. The release of Secret Region suggests interest in using AWS by particular parts of the U.S. government.

Secret Region is available to customers due to AWS’s contract with the intelligence community’s Commercial Cloud Services, or C2S, which will meet certain government standards, according to Amazon.

“Today we mark an important milestone as we launch the AWS Secret Region,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president, AWS worldwide public sector. “AWS now provides the U.S. Intelligence Community a commercial cloud capability across all classification levels: Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret. The U.S. 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.”

Secrete Region will also be available for U.S. government organizations that are not part of the intelligence community provided they have their own contract vehicles, which are not part of the IC’s C2S contract. “The AWS Secret Region is a key component of the Intel Community’s multi-fabric cloud strategy. It will have the same material impact on the IC at the Secret level that C2S has had at Top Secret,” said John Edwards, CIO, Central Intelligence Agency.

The need for government cloud services was underscored earlier this week after a security researcher discovered data pertaining to the Department of Defense’s spying program was exposed on three publicly available AWS servers. It was reported the data exposure was the result of a contractor uploading the Amazon S3 storage instance and making it available without a password requirement to anyone who knew where to find it. The incident is just one of a string of data exposures related to an unsecure Amazon server.

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