Amazon Strikes $1BN Data Deal with Top Spy Agencies
GCHQ praised the acquisition of a high-security cloud
E-commerce giant Amazon has secured a contract with three British spy agencies to host top-secret material on its secure cloud system.
The deals, worth almost $1 billion, will boost the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence for the UK's intelligence agencies.
But the deal may raise concerns over sovereignty because vast amounts of the country’s most secret data will be hosted on a single US tech company.
France backed the creation of a ‘sovereign cloud’ earlier this year, which would be used to handle sensitive public information.
This year, the agreement was signed with AWS, Amazon's cloud service unit, with data being held in Britain.
Amazon will not have access to information held on the cloud platform, according to sources.
The new deal will allow spies within the intelligence agencies to share data from field locations overseas more easily.
It will also help agencies to use specialist applications like speech recognition software to 'spot' and translate particular voices from recordings.
The use of AWS will also enable the agencies to conduct quicker searches on each other's datastores.
According to industry experts, the deal could be up to £500million to £1billion over the next ten years.
GCHQ refused to comment on its relationships with tech suppliers and AWS.
The former head of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, said the cloud deal would allow the security services "to get information from huge amounts of data in minutes, rather than in weeks and months."
Britain's cyber spies at GCHQ said that they had embraced artificial intelligence to uncover patterns to counter hostile disinformation and snare child abusers earlier this year.
GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said the number of ransomware attacks had doubled across the UK in 2021, compared with last year.
He told the Cipher Briefing:
"We've seen twice as many attacks this year as last year in the UK – but the reason is increasing is because it works. It just pays."
"Criminals are making very good money from it and are often feeling that that's largely uncontested."