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Cloud Government Security

Feds: We Need Priority Access To Cloud Resources 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-to-the-back-of-the-line dept.
New submitter BButlerNWW writes "Federal agencies must be assured priority and uninterrupted access to public cloud resources before fully embracing the technology for national security and emergency response IT functions, a recent report finds. It recommends creating a program to develop a system to ensure federal organizations receive 'first-in-line' access to cloud-based resources during emergency situations."
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Feds: We Need Priority Access To Cloud Resources

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  • How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:11AM (#40637479)

    What about business continuity? What about friends, families and coworkers staying in touch? What about private companies that run CRITICAL infrastructure, like ISP data centers?

    Fuck the feds. Just because it's government employees doesn't mean that it outstrips all other considerations, bar none. They act otherwise because if they can convince enough people, they get more money and power for themselves.

    • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by INT_QRK (1043164) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:33AM (#40637629)
      The U.S. federal government mindset is shifting inexorably from its intended role of democratic representatives to that of rulers. So sad to see.
      • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:51AM (#40637741) Homepage Journal

        Not only rulers, but corrupt, entitled rulers demanding huge amounts of money for political favors.

        • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hoppo (254995) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:20AM (#40638017)

          Politicians are corrupt. This is not new. It is the reason this country was founded on the notion that government should be granted very limited power. Humans are imperfect. The original design of our system of government was based on accepting that imperfection, and limiting the power that anyone can wield.

          • Re:How about no? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:38AM (#40638203) Homepage Journal

            Which means that you can't let corporate leaders have power to change the laws at will through political contributions, either.

            The right is paying way too little attention to the amount of power corporations wield. It's not just about politicians anymore.

            • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:46AM (#40638305)
              Except for the fact that corporations:

              A) Only have voluntary power/wealth

              B) Must use the government to abuse its power

              If you reduce the power that the government has, you eliminate corporate abuses because all corporate abuses need the government.

              The difference between a megacorporation and the government are huge. Walmart does not force you to purchase its products or face imprisonment, but thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling the government can. You can choose never to support a megacorporation or any corporation if you so choose. For example, I don't buy Sony products because of their policies with DRM and rootkits and removing features (as in the PS3), that means Sony doesn't get a penny from me. On the other hand, there are numerous things that I don't agree with the US government with, yet they force me to pay taxes (essentially stealing) via the barrel of a gun.

              Saying that corporations are dangerous is incorrect. Corporations are only dangerous with government power, reduce government power and you reduce any damage that corporations can do to nothing.
              • by TheSpoom (715771)

                If you reduce the power that the government has, you eliminate corporate abuses because all corporate abuses need the government.

                This is an unfounded assertion. A corporation can screw you over without involving the government at all.

                Are you next going to state that without the government, the mortgage crisis would not have happened? I argue it would have been much, much worse, and the people involved would likely now still be homeless.

                • Re:How about no? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by moeinvt (851793) on Friday July 13, 2012 @11:02AM (#40639679)

                  ". A corporation can screw you over without involving the government at all."

                  Sure, they can dump toxic waste in your back yard, but only government can absolve the corporation, its owners and its employees of liability (a tort) for doing so.

                  "Are you next going to state that without the government, the mortgage crisis would not have happened?"

                  Without the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (creatures of government) the mortgage crisis would not have happened. Without TARP, HAMP, HAMA, AIG bailout, and trillions in secret Federal Reserve life support, the banks would have been forced to accept the consequences of their own actions, and the damage could have been repaired.

                  "people involved would likely now still be homeless."

                  Without the government there would be no more underwater borrowers (certainly not 11 million) and fewer foreclosures. Bankruptcy = sell your assets to pay your creditors. This cleanses that "bad debt" from the system because assets reset to market value (i.e. nobody buys an underwater mortgage asset at full value.)

                  • by Hatta (162192)

                    Sure, they can dump toxic waste in your back yard, but only government can absolve the corporation, its owners and its employees of liability (a tort) for doing so.

                    By the same token, only the government can hold the corporation accountable.

                    Without the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (creatures of government) the mortgage crisis would not have happened. Without TARP, HAMP, HAMA, AIG bailout, and trillions in secret Federal Reserve life support, the banks would have been forced to accept the conse

                  • by KhabaLox (1906148)

                    Without the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (creatures of government) the mortgage crisis would not have happened.

                    I disagree. It still would have happened, but it wouldn't have been as bad as it was without the Fed raising interests rates a few months after Greenspan encouraged everyone to buy Option-ARM mortgages (to name one of their bad decisions). The mortgage crisis was really a perfect storm of deregulation, fraud, hubris and greed. Had AIG not been selling un-funded CDS's with it's left hand, while loaning out it's AAA securities to investment banks and investing the cash collateral in junk (but AAA rated) mo

                • by Dishevel (1105119)

                  See here is the issue. I do not like defending the banks. They are full of shit and feel entitled to being saved.
                  Fuck them.
                  OTOH.
                  What happens when the banks loan money mostly to the people it believes can pay them back?
                  Well. What did happen was that the government decided that poor people need a leg up. That not enough of them were getting loans. The government MANDATED that loans be less restrictive. This would not have been a problem. The banks that listened to the government would are some point fail and

              • by Hatta (162192)

                A) Only have voluntary power/wealth

                Yes, because no one has ever been wronged by a corporation that they don't do business with.

                B) Must use the government to abuse its power

                Do criminals require the government to abuse their power? Are you claiming that corporations cannot be criminal? Why don't we just deregulate the murder industry then, and let the invisible hand sort everything out?

                Corporations are only dangerous with government power, reduce government power and you reduce any damage that corporatio

            • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by hoppo (254995) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:53AM (#40638379)

              It's more about us. We have consistently abdicated our powers for relatively small payouts. A little social safety net here, some security theater there. Every time we clamor for government to intrude into some new area, we empower politicians at our expense. If politicians hadn't been handed unheard-of power over the past 80 years, what exactly would corporations be buying with their campaign donations? We like to act as if we have been wronged, when in reality we have done it to ourselves.

            • by moeinvt (851793)

              "you can't let corporate leaders have power to change the laws at will through political contributions, either."

              Corporate leaders cannot change a damned thing through "political contributions"! Only elected officials have the power to make and enact laws. If they change laws to serve the corporations instead of the people, it's a problem with GOVERNMENT.

              The point is that if government is small and their power is strictly limited (as it should be!) then it doesn't really matter how evil and corrupt a certa

              • by ultranova (717540)

                The point is that if government is small and their power is strictly limited (as it should be!) then it doesn't really matter how evil and corrupt a certain group of politicians become because they can do minimal damage.

                Limited by whom? Stop using the passive and name the entity that will stop the government from simply assuming more power yet fails to use dictatorial power itself. A civic-minded populace can do it, sure, but it also tends to extend the role of the government to help further various agenda

      • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hoppo (254995) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:17AM (#40637995)

        That's where "federal" has become quite a misnomer. This is becoming more and more a national government.

    • Re:How about no? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrb (1083577) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:34AM (#40637631)

      This article is just anti-government spin and alarmism. It is government policy to move as much computation as possible into the *public* cloud. This report just says that the public cloud, at the moment, is probably not ready for "national security and emergency preparedness" tasks. The report goes on to give examples of some of the service level agreement requirements that would be required ("continuous monitoring of the cloud infrastructure by the provider, third-party audits, data encryption and various certifications and accreditations, including continuously evolving accreditation requirements from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program").

      Anyone arguing against this is going to have to produce a coherent rationale for using the public cloud for national security and emergency preparedness tasks, and show that public cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft will continue to operate effectively in a national security / emergency situation. Of course, "national security" is an over-broad umbrella that is used to shield too many places from the public view, but that is a another argument...

      • This article is just anti-government spin and alarmism. It is government policy to move as much computation as possible into the *public* cloud.

        I've indeed heard that, but no one has ever explained to me why the federal government should want to use the (non-government) cloud.

        The "cloud" makes sense for small and even medium sized businesses; they can make use of the economy of scale of the huge business computational power, which makes particular sense if you only intermittently need large computing capacity or requirements for storage, or, if you don't have good forecasts for how much computing you need, you can buy it as you go. But the governm

        • by donaldm (919619)

          The "cloud" makes sense for small and even medium sized businesses

          In what way? Before any company considers using remote services which is really what the so called "Cloud" is (this is what it was called in the early 1980's) they have to determine if benefits verses cons are worth it. Each company whether small, medium or large has to consider security as a top priority. As an example consider a Law Firm, you would virtually want a guarantee written in blood that your data which may only be a Terra Byte. is going to be secure from prying eyes.

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        The single most important reason for our Federal government to advocate public cloud computing isnot about emergency resources or any such performance features.

        It's about surveillance. In the cloud, they only need to deal with the provider, and have access to everything - warrants not necessary. My corporate server is behind a firewall that offers at least minimal resistance. My home server is even more difficult, not because it's any more well secured, but because the government can't so easily coerce th

      • Indeed. And while they're at it, have them rewrite their websites to take advantage of this year's secure web programming language -> PHP. Then have them rewrite their apps in C or C++, for speed / security reasons.

    • Re:How about no? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shavano (2541114) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:23AM (#40638047)
      This view bleeds over from how the government uses the radio spectrum. On the channels they use, they have priority access and all other must wait for them because it's (theoretically) public safety. But the same doesn't hold true for any and all data storage. Cloud data storage is a convenience, not for critical data. They need to be reeducated if they think they can use the cloud for mission critical data they need immediate access to.
    • All this talk about 'cyberwar' and what do they suggest? The cyber-warfare equivalent of putting air defenses in a hospital near the front. Even with proper SLAs, you paint a giant target on everyone around you.

      What can we expect? Probably demanding that the hospital be armored and sealed up which will drive up costs for everyone without accomplishing what they intend.

    • We come from the government trust us... We are the best of the best...

      Having done work with the Government, it puts my mind to ease about all the conspiracy theories out there. These people think they are Top Minds, while they are the biggest idiots out there. I doubt they would be able to handle any of those Conspiracies out there.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      What about private companies that run CRITICAL infrastructure, like ISP data centers?

      What about them? If you give your CRITICAL infrastructure to be run by someone else, then you are a moron. This obviously goes even more strongly for actually critical emergency response functions where outages will cost lives rather than mere money.

    • Actually, I like the idea.

      See, I've been charting cloud outages. If they push everything onto the cloud, no matter what the cloud operator tells them about 99.99999% up-time, they'll get hit, and will have downsized / pissed off their home IT to the point that nothing will ever work right again.

  • They can pay for first priority

    • Re:They have cash? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JanneM (7445) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:25AM (#40637567) Homepage

      They can pay for first priority.

      They can, and should. I can see how access is critical, especially during events that may knock out parts of the infrastructure. Paying for the access is both fair and in spirit with the economic system they are working within.

      Of course, if they do so, some people will immediately point to their cost structure, compare it to the price paid by a novelty item manufacturer for hte same resources (minus any guarantees) and promptly declare that govermnent is inept, corrupt and wasting money.

      • by tqft (619476)

        Of course the government can either do it itself and be accused of being behind the time, wasting money on a depreciating asset and having over the top security requirements or;
        has lost control of its IT infrastructure and is paying too much for the cloud services.

        They aren't going to win.

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      no, they been spending themselves in to a deficit for decades, thats why the debt is 15+ trillion dollars and growing
    • Sure, and they should, but every dollar the government they either have it via force (taxes) or fraud (money printing). The government should be trying to reduce itself rather than growing.
    • by Americano (920576)

      Mmmm. Sounds like somebody's come up with a new way to transfer MORE wealth from individual taxpayers into corporate coffers!

      If you're not a senator now, son, you have all the makings of a successful one!

  • don't see why not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder (754090) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:17AM (#40637513) Journal

    After all, the government and corporations are fuck buddies, giving them better access would be part of the deal.

    How about this, the government makes a fucking cloud server, make sure it's up to the security they want, and open it up for the public to use, instead of relying on a corporation who only cares about making as much money as possible for the 1%ers.

    • Or they could just run their own datacenter, with their own servers to perform necessary IT function. Like they already do today.

    • ...And how do you think corporations make money (in a free market)? It is by providing a good service that people want to use. If they don't do that, they go out of business. I don't know about you but I don't pay for things that don't improve my standard of living.

      Unless a corporation provides a good service, it makes no money. Therefore, it is in the corporation's best interest to create the best service possible so it can make the most money. It has the net result in a corporation creating a much bet
    • Okay, the term has fallen into disrepute. But isn't the cloud just an extension or enhancement of the concept (pipe + storage space + online applications)? So why not a cloud service analogous to a country's road network?
  • > Feds: We Need Priority Access [Your] Cloud [Data]

    Give them an inch, [slashdot.org]... now they are back for...

  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:24AM (#40637553) Homepage

    Why do they need the cloud? How is the cloud better than your OWN well connected servers?

    • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:29AM (#40637597)
      This is just another case of some government guy who doesn't really understanding tech and that cloud is just a marketting word thinking that it is some great new technology.
    • by jythie (914043)
      Bureaucrats and politicians, accountants love made up number that show phantom savings..... I am sure their actual security planners and engineers are shitting bricks at the very idea of having critical government services hosted on shared machines of private companies during an emergency.

      The irony here, of course, is the internet was originally developed to be a way for the government to stay up and running when there was an attack or major disaster. Now they are trying to use the internet to make themse
    • by sycodon (149926)

      Exactly. Any moron who puts critical government functions in "the cloud" ( a stupid marketing term for someone else's servers) should be fired.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Bingo! I see no reason to use the public clouds for federal work. The U.S. government is big enough to run their own clouds where they can set the priorities. In fact, it would probably be cheaper and more secure in the long run. Who among us would turn government security over to Microsoft, Amazon, Google, or any of the other commercial entities? Just the privacy issues alone are a full-employment program for lawyers.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      Centralize data for easier review?
    • Perhaps it's the "cloud service" providers who approached the government, and this is the government's response. Also, the government seems to love firing employees and replacing them with contractors. This would fit right in with their fetish for firing people.
  • Personally... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JasoninKS (1783390) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:24AM (#40637557)
    Personally, I'd want to see their definition of "emergency" first. Other than that, I'd be fine with them getting priority access in an emergency situation. If an emergency hits, the NS/EP teams need that infrastructure to take care of the situation more than (for example) Amazon needing to get packages out the door.
    • Really depends on the agency to and the emergency at hand. For example, you may want the CDC to have priority access to resources during the zombie apocalypse, so that you can get recommendations on whether you have to kill the guy that got bitten, or if its only a problem if he dies of other causes.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Oh that's easy. There has been an official state of emergency in the US since 1995 [fas.org], continued by Bush, and continued by Obama. The US is in a permanent state of emergency, and any emergency powers must be considered permanent powers.

  • Here's an idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SQL Error (16383) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:27AM (#40637579)

    Don't use the cloud for national security and emergency response functions.

    Problem solved.

    • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:56AM (#40637777) Homepage Journal

      We are living in a culture where the entire political "debate" is revolving around the fallacy of false choices. If we were having a healthy debate both sides would be admitting that there are at least some areas where it is appropriate for government to be a healthy size and spend resources. Emergency management, in my humble opinion and setting all theories about FEMA set aside, is one of those areas.

      It shouldn't be outsourced because you can't truly rely on a profit-based agency in a true emergency. The goal of the modern corporation is selfish and doesn't care if anyone else survives the emergency or not.

  • by sageres (561626) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:28AM (#40637591)

    I work for a government agency (not going to name the name), but there has been push for the last few years to put much of our processing and data storage in the public cloud.
    How stupid. This type of stuff normally comes from the upper management whom the vendors happen to entertain on golf courses and parties every now and then (just like the vendors push any product there.) But the cloud is different. Somehow the jackets from MS, Google, IBM, HP and Oracle have execs everywhere up to the upper echelons convinced that it will save money on IT budget. By tying ourselves up into the cloud, we are allowing for 1. potential leak of information through public storage and 2. potential denial of availability to the information when such storage and/or processing center(s) become unavailable due to network outage, disasters, national emergency, etc.

    • It will save plenty of money until the system breaks down and the corps. involved don't give a shit that you're down.

      They you'll spend all the saved money and more converting the infrastructure back to what is should of been in the first place.

      The suits will look great in the short term and by the time the thing blows up they'll be long gone.

    • by oneiros27 (46144)

      As I also work (as a contractor) for a agency (that I've mentioned before, if you really care) ...

      I see it as being two things:

      1. Lobbying. Just like the 'one card' fiasco (what, we issue cards for 5 years even if the person's got 2 years left on their contract? Because it's such a pain & expense to issue a card? Oh, and it can get them into other installations that they have no business going to?), it's all a matter of lobbyists selling 'solutions' to minor problems that end up having major repercussi
  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:34AM (#40637633)

    Why doesn't our wonderful government just outsource everything IT to India and all weapons manufacturing to China while they're at it?

    I mean really...what are they thinking?

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:34AM (#40637635)

    And I'm sure most people who are considering using the cloud for serious business will expect 99.999% uptime.

    Granted, I don't get it right now from my ISP or my web hosting service, but they also don't try to sell me the world when they know they can't possibly deliver.

  • by laird (2705) <lairdp@noSPam.gmail.com> on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:37AM (#40637647) Journal

    As is often the case, the headline is completely misleading. The federal government isn't demanding first priority to cloud resources.

    They are saying that they can't move national security and emergency services into public clouds until the cloud providers can give them the guaranteed uptime that they have now with dedicated servers, so they're going to keep running those services on dedicated servers. This is worth talking about in that it's an exception to the general rule that the federal government is trying to move everything to cloud providers.

    The article even notes that there are some specialized cloud providers (e.g. Terramark's Federal group) that offer a higher level SLA than the public cloud providers, specifically aimed at providing the kind of SLA required for national security and emergency services.

    Please RTFA before flaming.

    • by dbitter1 (411864)

      Please RTFA before flaming.

      You must be new here...

    • by asylumx (881307)
      Agreed wholeheartedly. The headline reads more like "Feds want to be able to easily seize things that are stored on the cloud" than "Feds won't use cloud unless they can have priority access to their data"
  • by retroworks (652802) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:41AM (#40637689) Homepage Journal
    GOV: "Ok, I can see the advantages of putting my savings in this "bank". But I want to have just as rapid and priority access to it as I do when I put it under my mattress, I shouldn't have to wait in line if there is a run on the bank." BANK: "Excuse me sir, I was trying to help this lady in front of you."
  • Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitalsolo (1175321) on Friday July 13, 2012 @07:44AM (#40637705) Homepage
    I have a great idea for a solution.

    What they could do is take the cloud resources and "bottle them up" if you will, inside of some boxes that they own and manage. We'll call them "servers". Then, they could put these boxes in some secure facility that holds the data for them. We'll it a "data center".

    Nah, that'd never work.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      They don't want to PAY for it until they actually need it.

      • Well, really "they" aren't paying for anything, per se. "We" as in the population are paying for it. "They" are just figuring out where to apply our funding.

        There are benefits to "cloud" computing and resources, but blindly throwing things into it is short sighted. There is a reason the company I work for has its own dark fiber and data centers. It's the best way to control your data when your data is critical and/or confidential.

        Also, my apologies for missing a "call" in my second to last se
  • 1) Get law passed giving government priority access to resources during emergency.
    2) Declare emergency.
    3) Force cloud providers to shut down services to organisations/people you do not like because you need their resources.
    4) ???
    5) Profit

    It is not "censorship". It is "emergency resource allocation management".

    • by rbrausse (1319883)

      It is not "censorship". It is "Emergency Resource Allocation Management".

      how fitting, the University of Bradford uses ERaM as acronym for the Ethnicity, Racism and the Media Programme...

  • I know it's SOP to not read beyond the headline or if you really want to the first sentence but the blatant failure to grasp the nature of the article is a bit sad.

    The article is not suggesting that the government should demand first priority to the cloud, the article is pointing out several reasons why certain government functions should not be moved to the cloud (god I cringe just typing that damn word, We need a weather article so it can be used in a reasonable context). One of those reasons is it woul

    • by belthize (990217)

      The interstate example is almost exactly wrong considering the funding source for its creation and original purpose so strike that.

  • NOT AGAIN (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:06AM (#40637871)

    The is just another is a long series of recent articles that have totally distorted the original news.

    First it was EPICs reaction to Obama's executive order.

    Then it was the Nature article on tree rings.

    Now it's a complete distortion of an government study on use of distributed IT resources.

    Slashdot has turned into the Fox equivalent of nerd news.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Friday July 13, 2012 @08:10AM (#40637897)
    Then I want a pony.
  • Keeping in mind that USA is in emergency state since....since it's foundation, i wonder why they just don't say it this simple: "WE NEED ACCESS ALL THE TIME. PERIOD".
    Oh, and it reminds of the fact that USA cannot have standing army, unless they have declared war to someone...
  • We can let our computers connect into a central cloud management system and provide cloud service instances to the government when their national security is more important than us using computers ... the CROWD CLOUD. Yeah, that will work just fine.

  • Cloud by its very definition is that it exists globally with multiple routes to redundant copies of the data should any location; or nation; "fail". Does the US government want its data housed on servers placed all over the world? The cloud cannot exist solely in a single country, or two, or even three.

  • Let them build their own "cloud". Siezing other people's property is not the way to guarantee uninterrupted access (assuming, of course, that that is what this is actually about).

  • I want it I need it please please please can I have it?
  • (and bureaucrats) first!
  • Federal agencies must be assured priority and uninterrupted access to public cloud resources before fully embracing the technology for national security and emergency response IT functions

    if this system is required for emergency functions then WHY THE FUCK IS IT "IN THE CLOUD"?!

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