Report: AWS gets $600m contract to build CIA spy cloud

Amazon joins military-industrial complex


Amazon has signed a contract with the CIA that will see Bezos and Co. help the intelligence agency build a big yellow cloud, according to reports.

The news, if true, would mark Amazon's graduation to the elite set of major OEMs that have aided intelligence organizations, putting AWS's alleged spy cloud alongside IBM's Nazi-aiding tabulating programs, the involvement of Cisco and others in building the Great Firewall of China, and Google's 'intellipedia' search system for the CIA.

"Amazon Web Services will help the intelligence agency build a private cloud infrastructure that helps the agency keep up with emerging technologies like big data in a cost-effective manner not possible under the CIA's previous cloud efforts, sources told FCW," reported trade mag FCW: The Business of Federal Technology on Monday.

The cloud system will help the CIA transform some of its extensive IT innards into a massive cloud computing platform, FCW reported. The alleged contract is worth up to $600m over 10 years, FCW reported, making the CIA a significant customer given AWS's estimated yearly revenues of around $800m.

At the time of writing Amazon representatives had not responded to El Reg requests for information.

Intelligence agencies tend to deal with companies that are either so large they've essentially become part of the state – Raytheon, Cisco, Huawei, Lockheed, Oracle, BAE, Qinetic et cetera – or ones that are known to the community either through investment vehicles such as the CIA's In-Q-Tel fund, or by employing former intelligence personnel.

To our mind, Amazon fulfills two out of three of its criteria: the company has grown large enough for it to have a dedicated government public cloud via the AWS GovCloud service, and some of its key security personel are former intelligence officers.

AWS's chief information security officer (CSO) Stephen Smidt spent ten years as a section chief for the FBI; AWS's deputy CSO, Carl Moses, spent nearly four years as an FBI Assistant Section Chief, and Andrew Doane, AWS's director of security products and services, spent six years as a technical director within "the US Intelligence Community".

If true, then the range of uses Amazon's tech could be put to is vast – surveillance-as-a-service, anyone? ®

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