Government entities are struggling with the challenge of securely storing and transporting sensitive data around the world. This struggle is reflected in the increase in IT expenditure. Spending on private cloud IT infrastructure will grow by 10.3 percent year over year to $13.8 billion, with more than 60 percent of this amount contributed by on-premises private cloud environments, according to the International Data Corporation's Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker.

Even with investment in infrastructure, problems remain. Government agencies today are using shared hosting facilities, but in doing so they run the risk of exposing critical data to surreptitious elements, not to mention the challenges associated with jurisdictional hazards. Agencies of all sizes are subject to leaky internet and leased lines. As the world shifts away from legacy systems to more agile software solutions, it is becoming clear that the time is now for a paradigm shift in how to store, access and archive sensitive data.

An alternative is needed

To fulfill its unique requirements, government entities need an alternative, secure storage and transport solution. What if there was a way to bypass the internet and leased lines entirely to mitigate exposure and secure sensitive data from hijacking, theft and espionage, while reducing costs from both an infrastructure and risk perspective?

Alternative methods of secure storage and transport are coming forward for two reasons:

Hazards in the network: Cloud environments today run across hybrid public and private networks using IT controls that are not protective enough to stay ahead of real-time cybersecurity threats. Government data is maliciously targeted, searchable or stolen. Sensitive data — such as drone footage — can be exposed to acts of espionage through unauthorized access to computers, passwords and cloud storage on public and private networks.

The perils of jurisdiction:
Diplomatic privacy rules are under review by governments intent on restricting cross-jurisdictional access and transfer of the personal and corporate data belonging to their citizens. A government jurisdiction could restrict or force the exposure of information, especially when it has regularly been replicated or backed up to an undesirable jurisdiction at a cloud service provider's data center. This has created the requirement for government agencies to operate separate data centers in each jurisdiction, which can be financially prohibitive.

A shift in thinking

A new concept in data storage and protection comes in the form of a neutral, space-based cloud storage network. It could provide government organizations with an independent cloud infrastructure platform, entirely isolating and protecting sensitive data from the outside world. Data can be stored and distributed to a private data vault designed to enable secure cloud storage networking without any exposure to the internet and/or leased lines. Resistant to natural disasters and force majeure events, its architecture would provide a truly revolutionary way of reliably and redundantly storing data, liberating government entities from risk of cyberattack, hijacking, theft, espionage, sabotage and jurisdictional exposures.

It's estimated that it would cost the same or less to build, operate and maintain such a solution as it would for terrestrial networks. Such a system would need to include its own telecom backbone infrastructure to be entirely secure, and while this is extremely expensive to accomplish on the ground, it need not be the case if properly built as a space-based storage platform.

Satellites have been used since their invention to assist governments, militaries and embassies with information gathering and transport. In the near future, these entities will turn to satellites for the centralized storage and distribution of sensitive or classified material, the distribution of video and audio gathered by drones, or the storage and protection of video and audio feeds from authorized personnel in remote locations.

Look to the skies

In a world of state-sponsored cybercrime, hacktivists and plain old thieves, data has never been less safe. Government entities are looking for secure solutions that can store and move mission-critical data — including sensitive government agency applications —  that lie outside traditional infrastructure. Bypassing the internet eliminates current security risks and eliminates jurisdictional concerns. For government data, the future of storage lies in the clouds.

Scott Sobhani, CEO and co-founder of Cloud Constellation Corporation and the SpaceBelt Information Ultra-Highway, is an experienced telecom executive with more than 25 years in executive management positions, most recently as vice president for business development and commercial affairs at International Telecom Advisory Group. He co-authored "Sky Cloud Autonomous Electronic Data Storage and Information Delivery Network System," "Space-Based Electronic Data Storage and Network System," and "Intermediary Satellite Network for Cross-Strapping and Local Network Decongestion," each of which are patent pending. 

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