AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Strengthening Cyber Security Across the Department of Defense

A guest post by Gabriele McCormick, Lead Communications Specialist, Enlighten IT Consulting

Protecting U.S. cyber assets has become a top-level priority. In October, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 designed to enhance cybersecurity threat information sharing between the U.S. government and the private sector. The Department of Defense (DoD) has been fighting against adversaries who’ve harnessed technology to attack the U.S. in ways no one could have dreamed up five years ago. To defend the DoD’s information networks, cyber analysts must comb through the vast, unstructured volume of DoD cyber defense data to detect, assess, and mitigate cyber threats and act quickly. To support this mission, Enlighten IT Consulting (EITC) in 2012 developed and deployed the Big Data Platform (BDP) for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The platform is used currently by mission partners across the DoD.

The BDP is a robust and scalable architecture capable of ingesting, storing, and visualizing multiple petabytes of cyber data. Its distributed data structures and streaming ingest capabilities provide storage and retrieval rates in the millions of records per second. EITC also developed and deployed a suite of cyber situational awareness analytics to the BDP, giving analysts tools for accelerated attack detection, diagnosis, and threat mitigation.

When hosted on AWS GovCloud (US), the components of the BDP and AWS GovCloud (US) mesh to create a secure platform accredited for use across the DoD. Working with the AWS team has enabled EITC to fully meet its federal customers’ needs in a fiscally restricted DoD environment. Deploying the BDP on AWS GovCloud (US) was a key factor in cost reduction by eliminating sustainment costs for hardware, power, space, cooling, facilities, and bandwidth, which enlarged slices of the budget pie for the development of analytics and platform enhancements.

To keep pace with adversaries who constantly change attack vectors and methods, EITC recognized the need to provide analytic developers with a sophisticated analytic framework to rapidly develop and test their analytics at a reasonable cost. EITC developed the Rapid Analytic Deployment and Management Framework (RADMF) that can set up and deploy a BDP environment in AWS GovCloud (US) in minutes.

In RADMF, government customers are developing, testing, and validating analytics; ingesting and visualizing data; and performing computations and algorithms. It has also proven to be an excellent training environment as new analytics are developed and released. RADMF provides an instant feedback loop from the analyst to the development team as they iterate through the development process.

The continuous back-end tech refresh means that developers are always working with the latest BDP release. Kevin Reynolds, CEO of the IT consulting firm RBR-Technologies based in the Baltimore, Md. area, says that for customers who have been frustrated by other systems failing to meet their needs, RADMF has been the perfect solution. RADMF’s “pay as you go” pricing is extra incentive. “With the push of a button, my customers can deploy a full cloud-based analytics environment for only a few thousand dollars per month,” Reynolds says.

Learn more about the AWS GovCloud (US) in the GovCloud track at the AWS Public Sector Summit June 20-21 in Washington DC. Register today.