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NSA expanding telework for unclassified work

As the National Security Agency works to broaden its cloud-based telework capabilities, it is expanding capabilities within Microsoft Office 365 to support unclassified activities.

"One of the bigger things that we're doing to enable teamwork in a different way, across the board, is that we're bringing Microsoft Office 365 into our environment at all classification levels," NSA CIO Gregory Smithberger said during a virtual Intelligence & National Security Alliance event Aug. 5.

The intelligence community first teamed with Microsoft a few years ago on top-secret capabilities, but when it comes to unclassified use of Office 365, Smithberger said "the people who have been experimenting in that environment are finding the collaboration is just a little easier than what we've been able to do in a classic NSA and government network sense."

The NSA is planning to complete incorporation of Microsoft 365 into all levels of its enterprise IT infrastructure within the next year.

"We're creating some new environments with both compute and collaboration services to allow NSA to work virtually in an unclassified space for people who don't have clearances to really open up our ability to engage on a broader front," Smithberger said, adding that doing so would be telework friendly.

Smithberger stressed that NSA’s Office 365 telework plans have nothing to do with the custom built GovCloud environment that blends Amazon Web Services' hardware and NSA-developed software.

"It is top secret and only top secret. It will never be telework from home into the IC GovCloud; that's just not a thing," he said. "Remote work from classified facilities around the intelligence community, frankly around the world, into that through our top secret networks -- absolutely that's in the game plan all along -- but not telework."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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