Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Amazon That You Don't Know

Updated May 2020

When most of us think about Amazon, the first thing that pops to mind is that goofy orange smiley icon that pops up on their merchandise retailing website and the fact that it started life as an online retailer of books.  What we don't think about is Amazon, the cloud computing behemoth and its links to the U.S. intelligence network.  Thanks to a recent document dump  called = by WikiLeaks, we now have a glimpse into the underbelly of Jeff Bezos' world that gets almost no attention from anyone.

Let's start with this:

Amazon Web Services or AWS states the following about itself:

What it doesn't talk about is the massive size of its operation since many of its data centres are not publicly tied to Amazon, rather, they operate under subsidiaries that are not easily identifiable with Amazon, the online retail behemoth.  The documents leaked by WikiLeaks is dated from late 2015 and lists the addresses and some operational details about more than one hundred data centres located in 15 cities in nine nations.  Here is a map that was created by WikiLeaks showing the overall locations of these data centres:

Data centres are located in the following countries, regions and cities:

1.) United States - Northern Virginia, Seattle, California Bay Area, Northeastern Oregon

2.) Europe - Dublin, Luxembourg, Frankfurt

3.) China - Beijing, Ningxia

4.) Japan - Tokyo, Osaka

5.) Singapore

6.) Australia - Sydney

7.) Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo

Here is a sampling of the 20 page document which lists the locations and additional details including telephone numbers (which are not to be released to anyone outside of Amazon), addresses and shipping information and which comes with this warning:

"This information is not public and is classed as Highly Confidential!"

So much for that!

As you can see on this page, Amazon's presence at 7060 and 7080 Wellington Road, Manassas, Virginia is known as "Vandalay Industries" (remember that from Seinfeld?):

While all of this may seem relatively mundane, one has to keep in mind that Amazon/Bezos has a connection to the U.S. government intelligence network.  In 2013, Amazon signed a $600 million, ten year contract with the Central Intelligence Agency to develop a computing cloud service that would service all seventeen agencies that comprise the American intelligence community.  In November 2017, Amazon Web Services made the following announcement:

The AWS Secret Region has the ability to work with and store government/intelligence data that is classified up to the Secret level.  According to Amazon, AWS Secret Region is "readily available to the U.S. Intelligence Community through the intelligence community's Commercial Cloud Services contract with AWS".  AWS touts itself as the first and only commercial cloud provider to offer regions to serve government data classified as Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret and Top Secret.  

Let's close with this graphic from Synergy Research Group which shows the dominant position of Amazon in the Cloud provision business:

Amazon currently has a grip on 34 percent of the cloud market, bigger than the next four competitors (IBM, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba) combined.  This along with its past U.S. government involvement gives it the influence to gain an even larger share of the federal government's deepest and darkest secrets.

So, the next time you see this:

...think about Manadalay Industries (aka Amazon), located at 7060 and 7080 Wellington Road, Manassas, VA, 20109:

1 comment:

  1. Amazon is rotten to the core. Already no stranger to sweetheart deals, Amazon which has lined the pockets of its CEO Jeff Bezos at taxpayer expense is quietly moving in a direction that is destined to create even more controversy. Amazon through its lobbying efforts is on the verge of winning a multibillion-dollar advantage over rivals by taking over large swaths of federal procurement.

    When you couple the voice of the Washington Post with a company so deeply involved with discovering and archiving detailed files and information about individuals and politicians across America you command a great deal of muscle and clout. The article below delves into why it is time to face the fact Amazon needs to be curtailed.