ITAR Compliant Cloud Services for Businesses | FileCloud

The cloud has become part and parcel of todays Enterprise. However, remaining compliant with the International Traffic in Arms regulation (ITAR) demands extensive data management aptness. Most of the regulatory details covered by ITAR aim to guarantee that an organization’s materials and information regarding military and defense technologies on the US munitions list (USML) is only shared within the US, with US authorized entities. While this may seem like a simple precept, in practice, attaining it can be extremely difficult for most companies. Defense contractors and other organizations that primarily handle ITAR controlled technical data have been unable to collaborate on projects while utilizing cloud computing practices that have a proven track record fostering high performance and productivity. Nevertheless, the hurdles impeding the productivity opportunities of the cloud can be overcome. Practices that govern the processing and storage of export controlled technical data are evolving.

Full ITAR compliance in the cloud is not an end result, but a continual odyssey in protecting information assets. In the long run, being ITAR compliant boils down to having a solid data security strategy and defensive technology execution in place.

Utilize End-to-End Encryption

On September 2016, the DDTC published a rule that established a ‘carve out’ for the transmission of export controlled software and technology within a cloud service infrastructure, necessitating the ‘end-to-end’ encryption of data. The proviso is that the data has to be encrypted before it crosses any boarder, and has to remain encrypted at all times during transmission. Likewise, any technical data potentially accessed by a non-US person outside or within the United States has to be encrypted ‘end-to-end’; which the rule delineates as the provision of continual cryptographic protection of data between the originator and the intended recipient. In a nutshell, the mechanism of decrypting the data can’t be given to a third party before it reaches the recipient.

The native encryption of data at rest offered by most cloud providers fails to meet the definition of end-to-end encryption, because the cloud provider likely has access to both the encryption key and data. The cloud provider inadvertently has the ability to access export controlled information. Organizations have to ensure that DDTC definition of ‘end-to-end’ encryption is met before storing their technical data in a public or private cloud environment. Otherwise they will be in violation of ITAR.

Classify Data Accordingly

Most technologies are not limited to single use. Whenever an organization that handles technical data related to defense articles shares information regarding a service or product; steps have to to be taken to make sure that any ITAR controlled data is carefully purged in its entirety. Classification entails reviewing existing business activities and contracts to establish if they fall under ITAR. The process requires a good understanding of licensing terms, court interpretations, agency directives and other guidance. In order to successfully navigate the nuances and complexities of ITAR, organizations have to collect enough metadata to catalog, separate and classify information. For easy identification, the data should be classified into categories such as ‘Public Use’, ‘Confidential’, and ‘Internal Use Only’. Classifying data is a requisite to creating a full-proof Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) implementation.

Develop a Data Leak Prevention (DLP) Strategy

Accidental leaks owing to user error and other oversights occur more often that most would care to admit. Mistakes that can happen, will happen. Establishing a set of stringent policies to obviate users from mishandling data, whether fortuitously or intentionally is crucial to ITAR compliance. Organizations should have a strategy in place to guarantee the continual flow of data across their supply chains, while protecting said data from the following employee scenarios:
Well meaning insiders – employees who makes an innocent mistake.
Malicious insiders – employees with ill intention
Malicious Outsiders – individuals looking to commit cooperate espionage, hackers, enemy states, and competitors among others.

Control Access to Technical Data

Access control is well known technique that is used to regulate who can view or use the resources in a computing environment. Access control can be employed on a logical or physical level. Physical access control restricts access to physical areas and IT assets. Logical access control allows IT administrators to establish who is accessing information, what information they are accessing and where they are accessing it from. Roles, permissions are security restrictions should be established before hand to ensure that only authorized U.S persons have access to export controlled technical information. Multifactor authentication strengthens access control by making it extremely difficult for unauthorized individuals to access ITAR controlled information by compromising an employees access details.

Establish Security Policies and Train the Staff Well

An ITAR specific security stratagem is the corner stone of data security practices. The policies should handle network and physical security considerations. ITAR is riddled with complications that make it easy for organizations to make mistakes if they don’t remain keen. The organization is as secure as it’s weakest link, in most cases it’s usually the staff. A solid security policy on paper simply does not cut it. Without proper staff training, a compliance strategy will be largely ineffective since it doesn’t tie in with the actual organizational procedures. Investing in end-user training is the only way to ensure security policies are implemented.

In Closing

Organizations have turned to government clouds to manage the complex regulatory issues associated with the cloud. Platforms like AWS Gov Cloud has developed substantial capabilities that enable organizations subject to ITAR to effectuate robust document management and access control solutions. When paired with FileCloud organizations can build and operate document and information management systems that satisfy the strictest security and compliance requirements.


Author : Gabriel Lando