Australia commits $2 billion to partner with Amazon for building a secure intelligence cloud

Australia commits $2 billion to partner with Amazon for building a secure intelligence cloud

Australia commits $2 billion to partner with Amazon for building a secure intelligence cloud As a tech journalist, Zul focuses on topics including cloud computing, cybersecurity, and disruptive technology in the enterprise industry. He has expertise in moderating webinars and presenting content on video, in addition to having a background in networking technology.

The Australian Government has disclosed plans to establish a highly secure cloud service for its intelligence agencies in a $2 billion partnership with US technology firm Amazon.

This advanced platform, scheduled for completion by the end of the decade, is designed to boost information-sharing capabilities within Australia’s security sector.

The Guardian reported that deputy prime minister Richard Marles recently unveiled this significant investment, highlighting its potential to create approximately 2,000 jobs. Marles emphasised that the project would ensure Australia “keeps pace with the world’s most advanced defence forces,” while also enhancing interoperability with US agencies. “It will ensure that we have a far more resilient, capable, lethal, prominent, and potent defence force for the future,” he stated.

The project will involve constructing three data centres in Australia, designed to house the nation’s most sensitive intelligence information. For security reasons, the exact locations of these facilities will remain undisclosed.

Australian signals directorate director general Rachel Noble explained the benefits of working with a private sector collaborator. Noble said the agreement would give intelligence agencies access to “the best staff the private sector has to offer in terms of technology capabilities, services, and tools.” Artificial intelligence could substantially affect operational theory, with Noble highlighting its “game-changing” impact when applied to data collection and analysis.

Responding to concerns about security, Noble reassured that effective safeguards would be set up to prevent extensive data leaks, a priority in the post-WikiLeaks era. She stated, “Access to top-secret data is really carefully managed at an individual level, and we have very strong controls over what individuals are looking at within that top-secret environment.” Such controls also involve monitoring the information that employees can access and print, verifying consistency with their organisational roles.

It’s noteworthy that all personnel involved in the construction and operation of this project will be required to meet stringent Australian security clearance standards.

Marles underscored the necessity of this technological advancement in addressing the complex strategic circumstances facing the nation. He explained, “Modern defense forces, and indeed modern conflict, are more reliant upon information technology and computing infrastructure than ever before. In turn, what that means is that increasingly modern conflict occurs at a top-secret level.”

While the specific types of data to be uploaded to the cloud are yet to be determined, Noble assured that control of the top-secret data centres built in Australia “will remain exclusively the purview of the Commonwealth.”

Amazon declined to detail what other similar technologies the company makes available to other countries or whether any such intelligence infrastructure is or can be accessed by adversarial nations.

As Australia’s intelligence capabilities take a significant leap forward, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and executive chair, has revealed plans to sell nearly $5 billion worth of Amazon shares. The move, disclosed in a recent regulatory filing, coincides with Amazon hitting an all-time high of $200.43 just before the close, further extending what has been a gain of over 30% for the year—outperforming most key market indices.

As Australia embarks on this project, it represents a significant investment to secure the nation for all time and to keep pace with future global leaders in defense and intelligence. It amounts to a fundamental reform of how Australia’s intelligence system is prepared for this new age, thereby reframing the environment within which information sharing and analysis can be conducted across the national security community.

(Photo by Amber Weir)

See also: AWS boosts startup credits, challenges Microsoft in AI cloud battle

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