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Australia to build Top Secret Cloud in AWS for defence users • The Register

Australia to build Top Secret Cloud in AWS for defence users • The Register
Australia to build Top Secret Cloud in AWS for defence users • The Register


Australia’s government has announced its intention to build a Top Secret-rated cloud with help from Amazon Web Services.

A government announcement states the cloud will be built in partnership with the Australian Signals Directorate, an agency responsible for foreign signals intelligence and cyber security.

The “TS Cloud” will apparently be “purpose-built for Australia’s Defence and National Intelligence Community agencies to securely host our country’s most sensitive information.” The cloud is touted as giving Australia the chance to “improve our ability to securely share and analyse our nation’s most classified data at speed and at scale, and provides opportunities to harness leading technologies including artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Australia’s defence comms networks will apparently become more resilient as a result of the deal, which is said to improve the nation’s warfighting capacity.

Another promised benefit is support for “greater interoperability and deeper collaboration with the United States.”

The Australian government announcement states the cloud will require a spend of up to AUD$2 billion ($1.35 billion) over ten years.

Officials have stated that the cloud will be fully sovereign, but details of what’s been done to make that a reality are absent.

AWS declined to answer questions and referred us to the deputy PM, Richard Marles, who also serves as defence minister. We asked his office for info on where the cloud will be housed, who will own the infrastructure, payment arrangements, and whether the job was put to open tender. If we receive substantial info, we’ll update this story.

For what it’s worth we’ve not been able to find a contract award notice on Australia’s government tender site – but in 2022 that site did list a project aimed at “progressively establishing diverse multi-vendor SECRET Cloud Services that are hosted in Australia.”

In 2023, Australian officials flagged a project to build a top secret cloud.

Australia’s government, like many, has wavered between enthusiasm for cloud and caution as costs increased and security concerns became apparent.

This deal won’t change that stance: The Register is aware of government agencies building on-prem private clouds, sometimes on open-source platforms so they can scour code to help them satisfy their security worries. ®

Australia to build Top Secret Cloud in AWS for defence users • The Register

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