Military looks to use cloud for classified data

June 14, 2012

While some companies don't have enough confidence in cloud security to migrate their email to the platform, the U.S. Department of Defense is moving toward a sweeping plan that includes the sharing of classified intelligence on the cloud, according to NextGov.

General Keith Alexander, the military's top intelligence official and head of the NSA, has long been supporter of the cloud. NexGov reports that he has told lawmakers on multiple occasions that the military will eventually move all of its 15,000 networks to the cloud. The move will come as a major part of the Pentagon's attempt to save $680 million through IT consolidation.

Hesitant government
Many governments across the globe have been hesitant to use the cloud, according to a study by a network service company. With so much sensitive information, data security in the cloud was a major issue for many. Concerns saw government lagging behind other sectors, joining healthcare and education as the adoption laggards.

Service outages joined data protection as barricades, with 46 percent finding the current level unacceptable. However, 44 percent were optimistic that current weaknesses would be resolved in the next three years, with 70 percent planning to put some of their applications in the cloud.

The survey estimates that the global cloud services market will grow to $177 billion by 2015, mainly behind greater government adoption, like U.S. President Barack Obama's "Cloud First" initiative.

Cybersecurity in the cloud
While two-thirds of the survey's respondents fail to use the cloud for essential applications, there is no such hesitation from General Alexander. While others are concerned about the cloud, the NSA chief is seeking to put security concerns into the cloud, primarily a "dedicated threat-sharing and collaboration system" to help form the base of the government's cybersecurity attack-prevention program.

"The idea is to reduce vulnerabilities inherent in the current architecture and to exploit the advantages of cloud computing and thin-client networks, moving the programs and the data that users need away from the thousands of desktops we now use - each of which has to be individually secured for just one of our three major architectures - up to a centralized configuration that will give us [...] tighter control over access and vulnerabilities and more timely mitigation of the latter," Alexander said in a testimony before a House subcommittee in March 2011.

Information sharing
Beyond just the security and convenience of the cloud program, the intelligence community relishes the the efficiency that threat-sharing would provide.

"As General Alexander said, [...] secure cloud computing offers both DoD and the [intelligence community] many advantages and efficiencies that could enhance information sharing and collaboration," NSA spokeswoman Marci Green Miller said, according to NextGov.

-McAfee Cloud Security