Dropbox for files, Google for mail, iCloud for well, everything. Average citizens have all kinds of options for storing their information in the cloud. Now, spies want in. Soon, our nation’s secrets may take on a slightly more nebulous form.
In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and U.S. intelligence community, recently sunk money into a cloud-based storage company called Cleversafe. It says the platform is “ideal for storing mission critical data by addressing the core principles of data confidentiality, integrity and availability.” (Incidentally, those principles also spell out CIA).
Similarly, using a technology called “information dispersal,” Cleversafe takes massive amounts of data, slices it up into pieces and then sends those slices off to various locations, or “storage nodes.” Although the data might be in four different data centers across the country, it can be accessed in real time from a “private cloud.” And unlike traditional storage methods, there’s no need to make several complete duplicates of the original data, which saves space and money.
There are a few other advantages to this type of storage, according to Gladwin. It’s confidential, because individual slices of data can’t be deciphered on their own — an unauthorized person would have to obtain several different data slices at once to make sense of anything at all. It’s also more reliable. Even if the disks that hold those slices are corrupted, go offline or get lost, there is enough redundancy to reconstruct the whole file from just pieces. It’s pretty unlikely that ten servers or disks would all fail at the same time.
In-Q-Tel is confident that Cleversafe “will give our customers in the U.S. Intelligence Community a robust distributed-storage solution that provides the levels of unmatched reliability they require.” Since the government’s proposed IT budget allots as much as $20 billion for cloud technology, we’ll likely to see others follow suit in the search for a cloud of their very own.