Three UK espionage agencies are Amazon’s cloud computing arm, AWS, to host classified materials in transactions aimed at facilitating data analysis and the use of artificial intelligence for espionage activities. I made a contract with.
The procurement of high-security cloud systems is backed by GCHQ, the UK’s signaling intelligence agency, and will be used by sister services MI5 and MI6, as well as other government departments such as the Department of Defense during joint operation.
Given that the vast amount of UK’s most secret data is hosted by a single US technology company, contracts can raise concerns about sovereignty. The deal, which is estimated by industry experts to be worth £ 500 to £ 1 billion over the next decade, was signed this year, according to four controversial people. However, the details are strictly protected and are not intended to be made public.
AWS is a US company, but according to those with trading knowledge, all agency data is retained in the UK. They said Amazon couldn’t access the information held on the cloud platform.
GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming previously stated: Utilize AI It will be the “center” of the transformation of his institution to keep the country safe as the spy moves into the digital age.
A new cloud service designed to securely host confidential information makes it easier for spies to share data from overseas sites and “find” and convert specific voices from hours of interception recordings. You can enhance specialized applications such as voice recognition. .. It also allows GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 to perform faster searches in each other’s databases.
GCHQ told the Financial Times that it would not discuss business relationships with technology suppliers. AWS declined to comment.
Ciaran Martin, who resigned from the head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Center, a branch of GCHQ last year, said the cloud contract would allow security services to “get information from large amounts of data in minutes instead of weeks or months. You will be able to do it. ” “.
But he rejected the proposal that the system would affect the amount of information. Held by intelligence agencies.. “This is not about collecting or accumulating more data,” he said. “The obvious business case is to use large amounts of existing data more effectively.”
Gus Hossein, executive director of Privacy International and a technology and human rights expert, said there is “many” that Congress, regulators and the general public need to know about the deal.
“This is yet another worrying public-private partnership that has been secretly agreed upon,” he said. “Once this deal is signed, Amazon will be a reliable cloud provider for intelligence agencies around the world. Amazon will have to answer for itself which country’s security services are ready to work for. Hmm.”
Although this agreement is the first for the UK, UK security equipment lags behind its US peers in the use of commercial cloud services. The CIA signed the first $ 600 million cloud deal with AWS in 2013 on behalf of all US intelligence agencies. This cloud provisioning was upgraded last year under a new contract with a consortium of AWS, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and IBM.
Admiral Mike Rodgers, a former head of the US National Security Agency, said the move to cloud storage helped intelligence agents focus on potential suspects. “It gives us speed, gives us flexibility, and increases the likelihood that you are trying to identify that needle in a haystack by being able to aggregate more data. “He said.
The move by the UK to sign a US company surprised some experts. “Sovereignty is important, and historically there is a reason why security technology has always been built and maintained in-house,” said one security veteran. Initially, GCHQ was looking for a UK cloud provider, but in recent years it has become clear that domestic companies are unable to provide the scale and functionality they need.
Martin acknowledged that contracting with foreign vendors means “controlling and restricting vendor access to data is very important.”
“But as long as the company comes from a trusted country and has the technology you understand, there is a way to do this, which allows government agencies to manage risk,” he said. Told.
This year, the French government helped create a new “sovereign cloud” used by the French public sector to process sensitive data using government-approved security techniques. The project, called Blue, will participate in the Gaia-X project aimed at fostering a European cloud industry that can compete with US companies such as Google and AWS.
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