The National Security Agency had many of its classified and sensitive documents published online, after former security contractor Edward Snowden was able to extract many of the documents and deliver them to journalists for publication.
The Snowden leaks were a black-eye for the NSA. The Snowden documents have forced an international discussion on data privacy that encompasses both individuals and corporations. Privacy advocates have used the Snowden documents to establish a platform for their concerns.
For the NSA, one of their biggest objectives is to ensure that proper systems are in place so that this type of leak never happens again. The NSA believes that the cloud could have stopped Snowden.
A report on NextGov highlights the NSA’s zealous approach to secured cloud services. By using the NSA’s GovCloud, the NSA will essentially put all of its data in one place. If the NSA is trying to prevent another Snowden style leak, one has to ask if going this route is a good idea?
According the NSA CIO Lonny Anderson, the NSA’s GovCloud will only display information to employees if they are trained, authorized or have received security clearance to view the data. Rather than focusing on creating granular security rules for each employee, the GovCloud automatically provisions security rights based on several internal factors. Does this fix an employees abilities to discreetly move data out of the NSA facilities? CIO Anderson believes that it won’t.
“While putting data to the cloud environment potentially gives insiders the opportunity to steal more, by focusing on securing data down at cell level and tagging all the data and the individual, we can actually see what data an individual accesses, what they do with it, and we can see that in real time,” says Anderson in an interview with NextGov. Dave Hurry, an NSA cloud strategist is also quoted in the report saying, “We don’t let people just see everything; they’re only seeing the data they are authorized to see.”
NextGov’s report concludes that if the NSA had its GovCloud in place when Snowden executed his heist, the feds believe that they could have caught Snowden before he was able to flee the United States.