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Azure Government Top Secret now generally available for US national security missions

Posted on 16 August, 2021

Corporate Vice President, Azure Global, Microsoft Azure

Today we’re announcing the general availability of Azure Government Top Secret, a significant milestone in our commitment to bringing unmatched commercial innovation to our government customers across all data classifications. This announcement, together with new services and functionality in Azure Government Secret, provides further evidence of Microsoft’s relentless commitment to the mission of national security, enabling customers and partners to realize the vision of a multi-cloud strategy and achieve greater agility, interoperability, cost savings, and speed to innovation.

We've worked in close collaboration with the US Government to build a cloud portfolio that serves the national security mission and empowers leaders across the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Civilian agencies to innovate securely wherever the mission requires and at all data classifications, with a continuum of technology from on-premises to cloud to the tactical edge.

Azure includes four different cloud options for the data classifications of U S government customers and partners including Azure, Azure Government, Azure Government Secret, and now Azure Government Top Secret

Launching with more than 60 initial services and more coming soon, we’ve achieved the Authorization to Operate (ATO) of Azure Government Top Secret infrastructure in accordance with Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 503 and facilities accredited to meet the ICD 705 standards. These new air-gapped regions of Azure will accelerate the delivery of national security workloads classified at the US Top Secret level. In addition, we now have 73 services in Azure Government Secret, and we continue to bring new services into the boundary aligned to mission priorities.

Whether in sea, land, air, space, or cyberspace, today’s mission leaders face a common set of challenges—how to make sense of an unprecedented influx of data from many disparate sources, how to modernize existing infrastructure to enable agility today and tomorrow, and how to protect data, assets, and people across a rapidly evolving global threat landscape.

In addition to the 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies that use Azure, mission leaders choose Azure to bring market-leading commercial innovation to government, enabling faster insights from data, greater agility and interoperability to meet the demands of the mission, and unified cybersecurity capabilities to protect the nation’s most critical data. Some examples in each of these areas are below.

Build a unified data strategy for mission—anywhere

Across data classifications, mission owners are working to make sense of massive volumes of data—reshaping how information is gathered, stored, processed, and shared to unlock the power of data to inform decision making. Azure’s data capabilities are limitless from ground to cloud, enabling customers to synthesize data no matter where that data is located and no matter where insights are needed, including data at the far edge, in disconnected or intermittent scenarios, or data fed in by satellite or submarine.

The new Azure regions for highly classified data expand the ability of our national security customers to harness data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency, with solutions such as Azure Data Lake, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure HDInsight, Azure Cognitive Services, and more. Built into a unified data strategy, these services help human analysts more rapidly extract intelligence, identify trends and anomalies, broaden perspectives, and find new insights. With common data models and an open, interoperable platform that supports entirely new scenarios for data fusion, mission teams use Azure to derive deeper insights more rapidly, empowering tactical units with the information needed to stay ahead of adversaries.

What Azure uniquely enables is a continuum from on-premises to cloud to the operational edge, whether you are working with unclassified or classified data. This image shows various environments in which national security customers can use Azure.

Azure teams are also working shoulder-to-shoulder with our customers and partners to deliver purpose-built solutions on the Azure platform, including solutions to improve data insights. For example, to enable data fusion across a diverse range of data sources, we’ve built a solution accelerator called Multi-INT enabled discovery (MINTED) that leverages raw data and metadata as provided and enriches the data with machine learning techniques. These techniques are either pre-trained or unsupervised, providing a no-touch output as a catalyst for any analytic workflow. This becomes useful for many initial triage scenarios, such as forensics, where an analyst is given an enormous amount of data and few clues as to what’s important.

In addition, we’re continuing to deliver innovation to enable a diverse partner ecosystem from silicon to space, for example, enabling DoD to strengthen the US microelectronics supply chain through our work with the commercial and defense industrial base on the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) program. Today’s announcement also expands the options available for government agencies and partners to utilize Azure Space solutions from their native network environments to unlock new capabilities across any data classification. For example, with increased connectivity and ready access to data, mission owners can harness large-scale geospatial and space data for new scenarios such as machine learning, synthetics, visualization, emulation of space missions, and more.

Modernize mission systems for speed to innovation

Getting new mission capabilities into the hands of analysts and warfighters requires organizations to modernize existing systems and architect an interoperable enterprise. Azure provides a secure foundation for this innovation, with an open platform that enables developers to build with their choice of languages, tools, platforms, and frameworks, industry-leading tools for true cloud-native application development, and modern DevSecOps capabilities that can accelerate the path to Authority to Operate (ATO).

New services in Azure Government Top Secret such as Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), Azure Functions, and Azure App Service enable mission owners working with highly sensitive data to deliver modern innovation such as containerized applications, serverless workloads with automated and flexible scaling, and web apps supported by built-in infrastructure maintenance and security patching.

“In our work supporting mission-critical customers who want to innovate faster, Azure provides several key advantages. It’s flexible, truly hybrid, and has the openness and extensibility that allows for developer choice. This enables customers to benefit from the latest commercial innovations to derive insights from their most sensitive data.”—Larry Katzman, Chief Executive Officer & President, Applied Information Sciences

With multiple geographically separate regions, Azure Government Top Secret provides customers with multiple options for data residency, continuity of operations, and resilience in support of national security workloads. Natively connected to classified networks, Azure Government Top Secret also offers private, high-bandwidth connectivity with Azure ExpressRoute. These new regions deliver a familiar experience and alignment with existing programs, enabling mission teams to build low and deploy high with consistency across governance, identity, development, and security.

Protect the nation’s data with connected cybersecurity

Protecting our nation from rapidly evolving threats is a critical priority. Microsoft brings together massive signal depth and diversity of over 8 trillion signals per day combined with cutting-edge AI, machine learning, and a global team of security experts to deliver unparalleled protection.

For example, we understand the complex nature of nation-state cyberthreats and mobilize all our security analyses and products to discover, track, and defend our customers against them. Our approach rests on a thorough understanding of the tactics and techniques these groups use, their targeting patterns, and the possible objectives driving their activity. These insights, along with the fidelity Microsoft signals provide, allow us to better spot emerging malicious campaigns, warn customers about the activity, and implement protections against them.

To develop a unified cybersecurity approach to protect the nation’s data, mission owners can utilize products informed by this threat intelligence, including Azure Security Center and Azure Sentinel to integrate multiple security point solutions and continually assess, visualize, and protect the security state of resources in Azure, on-premises, and in other clouds. Both are now available in Azure Government across all data classifications.

Azure Security Center scans your hybrid environment continuously, providing recommendations to help you harden your attack surface against threats. Azure Sentinel enables you to collect data at cloud scale—across all users, devices, applications, and infrastructure, both on-premises and in multiple clouds; detect previously uncovered threats and minimize false positives; investigate threats and hunt suspicious activities at scale; and respond to incidents rapidly with built-in orchestration and automation of common tasks.

Learn more

For more than 40 years, Microsoft has partnered with the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and national security agencies to address our nation’s most complex challenges. In addition to Azure Government now providing a broad range of commercial innovation across all US data classifications, we continue to collaborate with mission owners to help solve their hardest problems. To further support the digital transformation of mission, we deliver cloud and cybersecurity skilling at no additional cost to our US Government customers. Please reach out to your Microsoft representative to learn more.

Do more for the mission with Azure. Visit Azure for US Government.