Google signs deal with US Air Force, announces FedRAMP High and IL4 authorizations

Google revealed that more government agencies will be able to use their tools now that they have two new security authorizations.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Google has signed a new deal with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) that will see scientists and engineers there use Google Workspace. 

The US Air Force Research Laboratory supports both the US Air Force and the US Space Force while providing new technologies for the US military. According to Google, the lab focuses on everything from laser-guided optics enabling telescopes to see deeper into the universe to fundamental science that helped create innovations in quantum computing and artificial intelligence. 

The US Air Force Research Laboratory will now use Smart Canvas, Google Meet, and Google Cloud technology in their work. 

"COVID-19 significantly limited the physical presence of researchers in the lab," said Dr. Joshua Kennedy, a research physicist at AFRL. "Google Workspace eliminated what would have otherwise been almost a total work stoppage. In fact, new insights into 2D nanomaterials, critical to future Department of the Air Force capabilities, were discovered using Workspace that would have otherwise been impossible." 

Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle added that the move was part of her efforts to modernize the technology used by AFRIL. She said the lab started experimenting with Google Workspace to supplement existing capabilities, noting that it has "revolutionized" their collaboration ability with external partners.

"Our mantra is 'collaborate to innovate.' We want our alpha nerds to be very connected, and we really want to up their proficiency as a digital workforce where data becomes a third language," Pringle said. "We're incorporating digital engineering into everything we do in science and technology and have a data-informed human capital strategy."

Alongside the news of the US Air Force deal, Google Cloud vice president Mike Daniels announced that Google Workspace achieved FedRAMP High authorization and Google earned IL4 authorization from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), meaning the company will be able to collaborate more with the US military.

"Expanding our list of compliance certifications and adding security and compliance resources is a critical part of Google Cloud's mission to deliver agile, open architectures, unified data and analytics, and leading security solutions -- along with productivity tools that support an increasingly hybrid workforce," Daniels said in a blog post, explaining that in the US, FedRAMP and NIST frameworks "set the bar for the security of society's most vital systems."

"The weight of this responsibility is reflected in the high bar that must be met to receive FedRAMP High authorization. This is a major milestone in our longstanding commitment to serving the needs of the public sector and to making the world a safer place for everyone."

Daniels added that with the certifications, the US federal government can now deploy Google Workspace within a variety of projects. 

"With FedRAMP High authorization across Workspace's public cloud offering, any customer can rest assured that they are collaborating at this high level of security, without having to purchase and deploy a separate 'gov cloud' instance. It also means they can operate seamlessly with relevant government agencies without additional overhead," Daniels explained. 

"Another key security standard at the federal level is the Impact Level 4 (IL4) designation, which applies to controlled unclassified information (CUI). Today, we're proud to announce that Google has earned IL4 authorization from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), allowing CUI to be stored and processed across key Google Cloud services, including our compute, storage and networking offerings, data analytics, virtual private cloud, and identity and access management technologies, when used with Assured Workloads."

In April, the technology giant announced that four other products have also received FedRAMP High authorization, including Google's Admin Console, Cloud Identity, Identity and Access Management, and the Virtual Private Cloud tools. 

Daniels noted that the configuration is supported in all seven US regions and "ensures IL4 workloads are supported by US personnel while being stored and processed in the United States." 

"Our new IL4 and FedRAMP authorizations join other Google Cloud data privacy and security features that allow customers to comply with the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standard and the IRS' Publication 1075 (IRS 1075)," Daniels said.

"While these are exciting developments for us, we are most excited about what it means for our public sector customers, who are working hard to achieve their missions and can now use cloud-first solutions to deliver on their mandates."

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