Written by Greg Otto
The cybersecurity features built into cloud computing have allowed the CIA to quickly achieve its technological goals, a top U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday.
Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said that of all the improvements that the cloud has brought to the intelligence community, the protections built into the technology provide the trust needed to handle some of the most sensitive work done by the U.S. government.
“The advances we’ve made in security are probably what have allowed the greatest movement of mission,” Gordon said Tuesday at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. “Because of our insistence in the confidence of our processes and our data, and our commitment to the trust the American people place in us, we now have an environment that we trust.”
It was a watershed moment for cloud computing when the CIA announced in 2013 that it would pay Amazon Web Services $600 million to set up a cloud computing system for the intelligence community. Since then, Amazon has become a titan in the space, dwarfing competition like IBM, Google and Microsoft in the race to help the government move away from legacy data centers.
“We trust [our cloud instances] more than our legacy systems, we trust with our most secure data and our secure processes,” Gordon said.
Government leaders have spent years pushing their agencies and organizations to embrace the cloud, listing better cybersecurity among the top reasons for making the transition. However, that switch is still slow to take form: a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday found that of the $90 billion the government spends on IT, the majority goes toward data centers that are often old and very vulnerable to hackers.
Gordon said Tuesday that the cloud has erased a large portion of the security headaches brought on by old tech.
“We are using the environment in order to move our security data to be able to patch more effectively,” she said. “What we’re using is the foundation for our cybersecurity infrastructure initiative that demands us to know our networks, to secure our networks.”
Gordon also spoke about the need to have the right workforce inside the intelligence community in order to take advantage of all of offerings cloud computing can provide the government.
“The biggest thing we have to do (is) share our demands for talent,” she said.