After all the Snowden leaks and countless privacy breaches over the past couple of years, finding out that the FBI has found Microsoft’s Azure to be CJIS compliant might have some a little uneasy. That would make sense if you didn’t know that CJIS stood for Criminal Justice Information Services.
In a surprising turn of events, the FBI along with the California Department of Justice determined that Azure is secure enough to comply with government standards for handling criminal justice information in the cloud.
In essence, Microsoft’s Azure Government was recently found to be secure enough to house the secrets of any state, city, or county agency in California if they so choose to use house their information in the cloud. This news comes after a 2013 partnership began between California and Microsoft to establish Office 365 compliance and use with the FBI’s CJIS standards. Along with being government grade secure, Microsoft’s Azure team can also hang their hat on the fact that Azure Government as of right now, is the first and only hyper scale commercial infrastructure cloud platform that has met the contractual CJIS requirements for local, state and federal governments.
Here is a little more clarification as to what all this CJIS mumbo jumbo means; the CJIS Division of the FBI maintains and operates systems that flow criminal justice information between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. This information includes critical personal information like criminal history, sex offender registries, and fingerprint records. With federal, state and local governments moving access of this type of information to the cloud, we can hope that molasses speed at which these agencies seem to move information speeds up a bit.
Aside from being CJIS compliant, some of these agencies may see some benefit in being able to build new innovated solutions on top of Azure Government, as it is designed to scale. In a pilot program ran by the Oakland Police Department and Microsoft, the department made use of a program called VIEVU. VIEVU offers a storage system built on top of Azure Government for police to capture and archive video surveillance coming in from policy body cameras. As more and more law enforcement agencies look to self patrol, this development and the scalability of Azure Government could be huge.
California isn’t the only state that Microsoft is targeting with Azure Government. As of this month Microsoft has been able to meet and sign CJIS agreements for 11 states including Texas, Michigan, Kansas, and Pennsylvania.