The US Government Is Going To Store Top Secret Documents In The Cloud

A newly released document from the Department of Defence reveals that the government agency has come up with two inventive ways to store classified government information online using cloud computing.

Information Week reports that a “request for information” document from the DoD was released and sent to major cloud computing and storage providers. The report outlines the agency’s plan to move document storage online using cloud storage providers.

For the first time, the Department of Defence is planning on storing “impact level 6” data online. Level six is assessed as “high risk” information that could put people in grave danger if it is leaked, meaning that it would come under the US data classification of “Top Secret.” The majority of the documents leaked by Edward Snowden were level 6. To put that in context, earlier this year Amazon was granted provisional authorization to store public and unclassified level 1 and level 2 data in its servers.

The government is proposing two different ways to keep classified information safe. The first method outlined in the new document is the “Data Center Leasing Model.” Cloud computing companies would be given floor space inside the Department of Defence. They could then use that space to install servers specially built to keep government documents safe. Companies would only be allowed to reside within the data centre “after sufficient security scrutiny and accreditation.”

There’s another way that the government is planning on keeping documents safe: The “On-Premise Container Model.” A cloud provider would fit a standard shipping container with servers and equipment designed to store sensitive data. That container would then be transported to a Department of Defence facility, and provided with power and cooling.

Both of the methods that the Department of Defence is proposing involve a physical connection to government data servers, instead of sending encrypted documents over the internet. This means that the top secret data won’t be vulnerable to hackers trying to intercept files as they are sent between locations.

You can view the full Department of Defence document at Information Week.

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