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26 April 2011, 16:22

NSA developing cloud technologies

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In an interview published by Information Week, the CIO of the US National Security Agency (NSA), Lonny Anderson, has described how it is developing a cloud-based architecture in order to facilitate the sharing of information and resources between the various US intelligence agencies. Some of the code developed in this process may well be made available as open source in a similar approach to that taken by NASA with OpenStack. Anderson is quoted as saying "I want to take advantage of developers not just across the IC (Intelligence Community), but developers everywhere." He added that sensitive code would be protected by a "security wrapper".

As well as cloud technology, the NSA is moving towards the use of thin clients, smartphones and tablets, as well as wireless connectivity. The intention being that multiple security domains can be accessed from any single device. Anderson stated that "Instead of taking data from CIA-specific or NSA-specific repositories, or FBI or DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), you'll be able to query via the cloud into those organizations and ask, 'Do you have information that meets this question?', and they'll be able to say, 'Yes or No'."

To combat the obvious security risks of these approaches, the NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, which this year has a budget reported at just over $900 million, is specifically working on technology to keep safe sensitive information on smartphones and tablets. In addition, the NSA has a project called Ozone, an app market for its users to download apps created both internally and by external developers. The NSA's users will also be able to make use of consumer technologies if they wish. Anderson stated that "We can't keep pace with the Googles, and we're not going to out-Apple Apple, But we need to take advantage of what they're doing, and make sure our workforce is exposed to the same technologies."

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