- Amazon Web Services introduced Secret Region, a new service specifically for the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community.
- It’s not really a secret service: It’s name just indicates it can handle data that’s been classified at the “secret” level.
- Amazon has offered the CIA a Top Secret Region since 2014 as part of a $US600 million deal.
- The extension of that older CIA deal with this new Secret service underlines the market dominance of AWS.
The Secret Region isn’t quite as secret as the name implies. The “secret” in its name just means that it’s qualified to host software and data that are classified at the “secret” level, which is right below “top secret.” That makes Amazon Web Services more applicable to intelligence agencies, which regularly deal with such sensitive information.
The “region” in the new service’s name is Amazon’s term for a data center. The Secret Region will be just one among many regions Amazon operates as part of its AWS supercomputing cloud.
The largest Amazon Web Services region is US-East-1, a facility in Northern Virginia. When US-East-1 goes down, all of the apps that rely on it start to struggle, causing outages.
Amazon has actually already offered a top-secret region since 2014. That service is a cloud offering Amazon built specifically for the US intelligence community as part of a $US600 million deal. The new Secret Region is an extension of the same Amazon-CIA arrangement.
A key difference is that the Secret Region will be available to non-intelligence government agencies, assuming they file the right paperwork. The government and Amazon are promoting the new service as a way for the US intelligence community to modernise its infrastructure and more quickly get more information to the appropriate people.
The deal underlines Amazon’s leadership in the cloud market. The retailer famously beat out IBM for the CIA deal in the first place, while Microsoft and Google aren’t known to offer any cloud services to the intelligence community at all.