CIA, NSA Moving to Cloud for Data Security
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 18: The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency is displayed in the foyer of the original headquarters building in Langley, Virginia, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2009. CIA Director Leon Panetta said this week he never contemplated resigning over a newly begun Justice Department inquiry into tactics used during interrogations of terrorist suspects. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
AMERICA’S Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency say they will move data to cloud, which they argue is more secure than a client service solution. It’s a signpost for the electronic security industry, which remains reluctant to embrace cloud-based storage and management applications.
“Security is an absolutely existential need for everything we do at the agency — the cloud on its weakest day is more secure than a client service solution,” Sean Roche, associate deputy director at the CIA’s Digital Innovation Directorate, said at an event in Washington, D.C. recently. “Encryption runs seamlessly on multiple levels. It’s been nothing short of transformational.”
According to Roche, cloud is a streamlined, user-friendly option compared to what he said were a “cacophony” of legacy systems at agencies, which IT specialists are “desperately” trying to upgrade, according to a report in Nextgov.
According to Roche, agencies fall behind on cybersecurity when they try to bolt on new IT security tools and software to legacy systems, especially when different IT team members aren’t across config. Roche said that the current acquisition process in IT “crushes souls”.
“It takes too much time,” he said. “Commercial and private companies doing no business with the government have to have an on-ramp in.”
At the same time, NSA CIO Greg Smithberger told NextGov and Bloomberg that IC GovCloud is an integrated “big data fusion environment” allowing NSA analysts to rapidly “connect the dots” across data sources.
“To maximize our ability to rapidly fuse data and bring the most relevant information to our analysts as quickly as possible, while still protecting need to know, we created a custom big data fusion environment, using a combination of NSA inventions and commercially developed technology,” Smithberger said.
“The big data analytics fusing data across the entire data lake only deliver to any individual the subset of the results that individual is authorized to see and the same mechanisms that enforce need to know and compliance within NSA’s mission have also proven effective across IC agencies, even though the governing laws and policies differ across agencies.”
“The NSA has been systematically moving almost all its mission into this big data fusion environment and right now, almost all NSA’s mission is being done in IC GovCloud, and the productivity gains and the speed at which our analysts are able to put together insights and work higher-level problems has been really amazing.”
Smithberger argues that IC GovCloud accelerates the work of human analysts by augmenting it with machine learning and algorithms.
“This environment allows us to run analytic tools and do machine-assisted data fusion and big data analytics and apply a lot of automation to facilitate and accelerate what humans would like to do, and get the machines to do it for them,” he said. “Analysts can interactively ask questions”…“receive data in humanly readable form.”