Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Gopala Krishna Behara, Raju Myadam, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud & National Security: Report to the President on Cloud Computing

Can NS/EP processes be migrated to the cloud without undue risk?

In view of the the quick-moving push to modernize many national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) capabilities to be cloud based capabilities, the White House tasked the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) to produce a report aimed at answering the central issue: Can NS/EP processes be migrated to the cloud without undue risk?


By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From the executive summary:

"Cloud computing is a paradigm shift in technology that changes the way applications, data and processes are performed, stored and shared. As with any technology paradigm shift, issues such as how the new technologies are used, security, policy, and oversight must be considered when weighing the benefits of adopting the new paradigm. Accordingly, as the federal government executes its Cloud First policy, implications for national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) must be considered as they relate to cloud computing plans and programs. Toward these ends, and in the context of a charge to examine cloud computing, two questions were posed to the President’s National Security and Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) by the Executive Office of the President (EOP):

  • Within the context of NS/EP, what equities should the Government consider moving to the cloud, and in what priority order, if appropriate? What are the sorting/defining NS/EP considerations to determine applicability and value for migration of any given equity to a cloud computing environment?
  • For equities that do migrate to the cloud, should the requirements for providers supporting NS/EP standards and capabilities differ from the requirements established for commercial cloud providers in general? If so, how?

The central issue at the core of these questions is: Can NS/EP processes be migrated to the cloud without undue risk? In order to confidently answer the question favorably, the NSTAC
recommends that a regime of policy, legal authorities, security and oversight that is comparablyrigorous, complete and trustworthy relative to that now in place for NS/EP activities via legacy means be adopted.

This in turn required the NSTAC to examine several aspects of the described framework as it applies or could be extended to cloud computing. In that regard, the NSTAC studied:

  • Policy and legal frameworks: Both have important gaps, and recommended fixes are identified;
  • Means by which NS/EP cloud activities, contracts and programs could be identified for specific treatment inside the much larger federal cloud enterprise – An approach based on mandatory service-level agreements (SLA) was developed in detail, and is recommended;
  • Security considerations for cloud computing: The NSTAC developed an approach tailored to specific characteristics and priorities of cloud computing, and then designed controls to mitigate identified risks; and
  • Priority-access process to support emergency needs: Programs in this area need to be developed, and the NSTAC recommends what to do and how to proceed.

This analysis permitted the NSTAC to conclude that while not in place today, the needed ‘comparable’ NS/EP-support regime of policy, legal, security and other considerations can be both defined and implemented. In that context, and conditioned on the availability of such processes, the NSTAC was able to directly address the questions posed.

Within the context of NS/EP, what equities should the Government consider moving to the cloud, and in what priority order, if appropriate? What are the sorting/defining NS/EP considerations to determine applicability and value for migration of any given equity to a cloud computing environment? Conceivably any NS/EP process, including the most sensitive matters, could be moved to “some kind of” cloud, given proper attention to architectural and security decisions. The key qualifier in this judgment relates to the choice of deployment and service model, each seen in the context of the specific mission to be migrated. To support this analysis, the NSTAC deconstructed NS/EP to the mission-function level and subjected each such mission to risk-benefit analysis via a process using NS/EP-specific attributes developed by the NSTAC for this purpose. The NSTAC was able to rank and prioritize recommended progression to the cloud based on the variable benefit of doing so, mission by mission. The result of this effort was a graphical plot of relative value of cloud migration, with some missions appearing more attractive than others, but all being acceptable at some level. Details of this analysis and tables of findings and conclusions may be found in the body of the report.

For equities that do migrate to the cloud, should the requirements for providers supporting NS/EP standards and capabilities differ from the requirements established for commercial cloud providers in general? If so, how? The NSTAC has developed recommendations that address this issue in two parts. First, a list of specific security and related functionalities are identified that should be codified in standard SLAs, using the NS/EP SLAs in the Networx contract vehicle as a point of departure. These should be made mandatory as part of any NS/EP cloud computing contract awarded to any service provider. Second, the NSTAC carefully reviewed existing security-control frameworks from numerous sources, reflecting various points of view and key aspects of domain knowledge and experience of their drafters. From these the NSTAC selected best practices of the federal cloud policy and technology authorities, the cloud computing industry, the audit community and leading international organizations. These were blended into a common language and format, and then distilled into a single, comprehensive and coherent set of cloud security controls tailored for NS/EP attributes and priorities. The NSTAC recommends that these controls become mandatory for daily use in all NS/EP cloud computing implementations.
In the course of implementing the program described here, the most important recommendations included in the report are that the President:

  • Direct the appropriate Government organization to develop processes and maintain priorities as described in the body of the report for migration of NS/EP missions to cloud based environments.
  • Direct the adoption of NS/EP SLAs in all contracts pertaining to NS/EP cloud computing, which address the following functionalities:
    • Mission emphasis on continuous availability, assured capacity;
    • Identity management (authentication & authorization) for specified mission functions;
    • Periodic third-party audit;
  • Provisions for continuous monitoring;
  • Data encryption in hosted data center (data at rest);
  • Security process transparency for users (EP systems only); and
  • Certification and accreditation (C&A) of hosting systems/processes.
  • For certain national security systems, additional requirements include:
    • Data tagging; and
    • Security management conducted by government service provider.
  • Direct the National Communications System (NCS) to adopt cloud security controls developed by this study and found at Appendix E as a comprehensive NS/EP cloud security program, making their use mandatory by NS/EP service owners and auditable by third parties.
  • Broaden the definitional scope of NS/EP, as reflected in current law and federal regulation, to embrace information services, as defined, in order to permit the technical nature of cloud computing to fit within the NS/EP definition.
  • Direct the expansion of scope of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to embrace those governmental information systems reportable under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) at Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 199 High Impact level, thereby closing a current gap in oversight of a large number of systems relevant to NS/EP.
  • Direct the initiation of a Federal program, in collaboration with relevant industry partners, to develop a system for priority access to cloud-based equities in times of need, based on infrastructure degradation due to natural or man-made causes."

The full report is here [PDF]: 2012-05-15 NSTAC Cloud Computing.

Thanks to Bob Gourley of CTO Labs for hosting the PDF.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits,...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile exhibited at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on qua...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness. For more information, please visit https://www.cedexis.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Google Cloud has been named “Keynote Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Companies come to Google Cloud to transform their businesses. Google Cloud’s comprehensive portfolio – from infrastructure to apps to devices – helps enterprises innovate faster, scale smarter, stay secure, and do more with data than ever before.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vivint to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. As a leading smart home technology provider, Vivint offers home security, energy management, home automation, local cloud storage, and high-speed Internet solutions to more than one million customers throughout the United States and Canada. The end result is a smart home solution that sav...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Opsani is the leading provider of deployment automation systems for running and scaling traditional enterprise applications on container infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nirmata will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nirmata provides a comprehensive platform, for deploying, operating, and optimizing containerized applications across clouds, powered by Kubernetes. Nirmata empowers enterprise DevOps teams by fully automating the complex operations and management of application containers and its underlying ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Opsani to exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. Opsani is creating the next generation of automated continuous deployment tools designed specifically for containers. How is continuous deployment different from continuous integration and continuous delivery? CI/CD tools provide build and test. Continuous Deployment is the means by which...