The Stack Archive

CIA to open private ‘app store’ for intelligence operatives via Amazon Web Services

Fri 27 Feb 2015

Next month the US Central Intelligence Agency will launch a private app marketplace via provisioning from Amazon Web Services. The announcement was made by the CIA’s Chief Information Officer Doug Wolfe at the 4th annual Cloudera Federal Forum in Virginia on Wednesday.

The apps available will be aimed at – and only available to – CI operatives, and will include the opportunity to subscribe to third-party services, trial apps and engage with open-source solutions. There are reported to be ‘a few hundred applications’ ready for the launch of the exclusive app-store, though no reference has been made to any proprietary or homespun applications that the agency might include in the listings.

The Department of Defense issued provisional authorisation in April of 2014 for its agencies to use Amazon’s ‘AWS GovCloud (US)’ infrastructure for new IT and provisioning initiatives.

Wolfe explained to the Federal Times that the apps at the new hub will have a ‘mission purpose’: “we’re not just going to pull in any app,” he said, and continued “We started looking at how we were going to apply this thing and looking at what happens commercially in a cloud structure, and some folks had the idea that we need an environment that is much like the marketplace we see commercially…We are going to be delivering a private marketplace that will support the [Intelligence Community],”

Wolfe said that more ‘mission-related apps’ would likely be made available as they are developed, and said that keeping an up-to-date array of apps in a central location would help the CIA and its affiliate security agencies to ‘stay dynamic and competitive in a changing threat environment’.

“I’ve got to believe that two years from now there’s going to be the next generation of Spark or Hadoop,” said Wolfe. “or whatever that is, and we’re going to say we really need access to that and we really need to leverage that to make our mission work.”

The trend for the US government to de-cloister its approach to IT has become particularly apparent in the last 6-12 months, as government initiatives to engage with the private and open-source sector seem to crop up almost weekly – even to the point of the US Army open-sourcing one of its forensic analysis tools. This week we also learned that the government is launching a five-year scheme to develop cyber-attack prediction technology with the private and academic sector.


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