How the Pentagon plans to bolster cloud security
- By Sean Lyngaas
- Dec 01, 2014
The latest installment in the Defense Department's quest to find the right blend of security and affordability in the commercial cloud came in the form of a report released by the DOD CIO's office. The report offers "cradle-to-grave" guidance for commercial cloud providers and DOD customers, acting DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen wrote in a prefacing memo.
The report, "DOD Cloud Way Forward," is the product of a 45-day study by Halvorsen's office, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the National Security Agency. It contains three main proposals to help DOD customers evaluate cloud security, with a central goal of cutting out unnecessary requirements for less-sensitive information and systems.
The first of the trio of proposals is to adjust security levels in the Cloud Security Model to distinguish between "national security systems" and Pentagon computing systems, reducing the number of controls for non-national security systems. The CSM is a set of security guidelines developed by DISA for cloud service providers hosting Defense Department missions up to the secret level.
The second proposal would establish the concept of "mission impact," letting DOD cloud customers identify systems that may be important to a specific mission but less important to DOD's overall missions of waging war and defending the country. Systems designated "low-impact" would have reduced security requirements.
The report's third proposal is "a new structure of security controls" for the Cloud Security Model that "simplifies the controls" for information at Impact Levels 1 and 2, which is unclassified.
The cloud report comes as Halvorsen's office is finalizing a memo detailing a policy shift at DOD that would allow the military services greater autonomy over cloud procurement rather than leaving that authority to DISA.
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.