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NSA To Build $1.5 Billion Cybersecurity Data Center

The massive complex, comprising up to 1.5 million square feet of building space, will provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats across government.

The National Security Agency, whose job it is to protect national security systems, will soon break ground on a data center in Utah that's budgeted to cost $1.5 billion.

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The NSA is building the facility to provide intelligence and warnings related to cybersecurity threats, cybersecurity support to defense and civilian agency networks, and technical assistance to the Department of Homeland Security, according to a transcript of remarks by Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, who is responsible for oversight of cyber intelligence activities in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

"Our country must continue to advance its national security efforts and that includes improvements in cybersecurity," Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said in a statement. "As we rely more and more on our communications networks for business, government and everyday use, we must be vigilant and provide agencies with the necessary resources to protect our country from a cyber attack."

The data center will be built at Camp Williams, a National Guard training center 26 miles south of Salt Lake City, which was chosen for its access to cheap power, communications infrastructure, and availability of space, Gaffney said. The complex will comprise up to 1.5 million square feet of building space on 120 to 200 acres, according to the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City.

According to a budget document for the project, the 30-megawatt data center will be cooled by chilled water and capable of Tier 3, or near carrier-grade, reliability. The design calls for the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard within available resources.

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers will host a conference in Salt Lake City to provide further detail the data center building and acquisition plans. The project will require between 5,000 and 10,000 workers during construction, and the data center will eventually employ between 100 and 200 workers.

As part of its mission, NSA monitors communications "signals" for intelligence related to national security and defense. Gaffney gave assurances that the work going on at the data center will protect civil liberties. "We will accomplish this in full compliance with the U.S. Constitution and federal law and while observing strict guidelines that protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," Gaffney said.

On Nov. 30, the Department of Homeland Security will formally open a new cybersecurity operations center, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, in Arlington, Va. The facility will house the National Cyber Security Center, which coordinates cybersecurity operations across government, the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications, which operates the government's telecommunications network, and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which works with industry and government to protect networks and alert them of malicious activity.

InformationWeek Analytics has published a report on the 10 steps to effective data classification. Download the report here (registration required).

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