Microsoft Azure Government Top Secret: Everything You Should Know
Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret, a cloud service for government agencies across the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Civilian. The company provides Azure Government, Azure Government Secret, and Azure public cloud to its government customers, but now is after highly classified data workloads.
Microsoft says that they have achieved the Authorization to Operate (ATO) of Azure Government Top Secret infrastructure per Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503 and facilities accredited to meet the ICD 705 standards (a list of precise steps a ‘compartmented information facility’ has to follow). The data centers need to follow strict rules on construction, physical security features, and staffing checks.
As part of the process, the Azure regions are air-gapped, which will fast-track the delivery of national security workloads. The Azure Government Top Secret is launching with more than 60 services, including Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure App Service, and Azure Functions, with more coming soon.
Commitment to National Security
Microsoft has partnered with the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and national security agencies for more than 40 years to address our nation’s most complex challenges. The Azure Government Top Secret portfolio was developed in close collaboration with the US Government to empower leaders in the federal civilian agencies, US intelligence community, and Defense Department to innovate securely, from on-premise, in the cloud, or at the tactical edge.
According to Tom Keane, Corporate Vice President, Azure Global, the new functionalities and services of Azure Government Top Secret is a testament to the company’s commitment to national security and enabling government partners and customers to realize the vision of a multi-cloud strategy and achieve greater agility, speed of innovation, cost savings, and interoperability. To further support the digital transformation of its US Government partners, Microsoft delivers cloud and cybersecurity skilling at no additional cost.
How Microsoft Azure Government Top Secret Helps
Government security agencies face a common set of challenges – how to make sense of an extraordinary influx of data from many different sources, protect people, assets, and data across a rapidly changing global threat landscape, and modernize existing systems to enable agility. Azure Government Top Secret uses a three-pronged approach that addresses all these challenges:
1. Building a New Unified Data Strategy
Microsoft Azure Government Top Secret is reshaping how information is collected, processed, stored, and shared to unlock the power of data to inform decision-making. Azure’s limitless data capabilities are from ground to cloud, allowing security agencies to synthesize data regardless of where that data is located or whether it’s fed in by satellite or submarine.
The new Azure regions for highly classified data allow national security agencies to harness data at scale and speed for operational advantage and increased efficiency. Advanced analytics functions like Azure Data Lake, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Cosmos DB, and Azure HDInsight are built into a unified data strategy that helps human analysts identify trends and anomalies more rapidly, extract intelligence, and find new insights, and broaden perspectives.
Azure Government Top Secret also has built-in solutions to improve data insights. Azure’s solution accelerator, Multi-INT enabled discovery (MINTED), allows data fusion across a diverse range of data sources. This solution leverages raw data and metadata as provided and enriches the data with machine learning techniques, which are either pre-trained or unsupervised. This “no-touch output” can be beneficial for data triage use cases, where analysts are given an enormous amount of data with few clues as to what’s important.
And thanks to an interoperable platform that supports completely new scenarios for data fusion, government security agencies can more rapidly derive deeper insights, empowering tactical units with the information needed to stay ahead of adversaries.
2. Modernizing Existing Infrastructure For Innovation and Speed
Organizations need to modernize existing systems and create an interoperable enterprise to provide new capabilities to analysts and warfighters. Azure Government Top Secret provides a secure foundation for this innovation, with an open platform that enables developers to build with their choice of tools, frameworks, languages, and platforms, as well as modern DevSecOps capabilities that can fast-track the path to Authority to Operate (ATO) and industry-leading tools for true cloud-native application development.
Azure Government Top Secret services such as Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure App Service, and Azure Functions allow agencies working with highly sensitive data to deliver modern innovation like serverless workloads with automated and flexible scaling and security patching, web apps supported by built-in infrastructure maintenance, and containerized applications. Because of the multiple geographically separate regions, government agencies have multiple options for continuity of operations, data residency, and resilience in support of national security workloads.
What’s more, Azure Government Top Secret also offers private, high-bandwidth connectivity with Azure ExpressRoute, delivering a familiar experience and alignment with existing programs, enabling teams to build low and deploy high with consistency across development, governance, security, and identity.
3. Protecting the Nation With Connected Cybersecurity
The Microsoft Azure team understands the complex nature of the cyber threats facing our nation. By bringing together an immense signal depth and diversity of trillion signals every day coupled with a global team of security experts, machine learning, and cutting-edge AI, Azure Government Top Secret can help deliver unparalleled protection.
On top of that, a thorough understanding of the tactics and techniques used by cybercrime groups, their targeting patterns, and the possible objectives driving their activity, as well as the precision Microsoft signals offer, allows Azure to detect emerging malicious campaigns better, warn customers about suspicious activity, and implement protections against them.
Government agencies can develop an integrated cybersecurity approach to protect the country’s data by utilizing products, including Azure Sentinel and Azure Security Center, to integrate multiple security solutions and continually assess, visualize, and protect the security state of resources in Azure, on-premises, and in other clouds.
Azure Sentinel, a robust security information event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automated response (SOAR) solution lets you gather data across all users, applications, infrastructure, and devices, both on-premises and in multiple clouds. It provides intelligent security analysis, investigates threats and hunts suspicious activities at scale, and responds to incidents rapidly. On the other hand, Azure Security Center scans your hybrid environment continuously, providing recommendations to help you harden your attack surface against threats.
At Intelice Solutions, we are a top Microsoft Azure partner and provide Azure solutions to businesses across the country. We provide Microsoft Azure Migrations and Upgrades Services that allow businesses to make a smooth transition to the Azure cloud platform. For more information on our Microsoft Azure solutions, contact us today to schedule a consultation.