According to the Washington Post, Microsoft has achieved Impact Level 6, the Pentagon’s highest IT security certification.
Prior to December 12, Amazon was the only company to have achieved Impact Level 6. The certification allows a company to store classified data in the cloud. Under normal circumstances, “defense and intelligence agencies typically use air-gapped, local computer networks to store sensitive data rather than the cloud-based systems that most companies now use to harness far-off data centers.”
As the Washington Post points out, the security clearance helps justify Microsoft beating Amazon for a lucrative Pentagon contract. Amazon, as well as many experts, thought the company was all but guaranteed to win the contract, in part because it was the only company to have Impact Level 6. In addition, the company has previously worked with the CIA, giving it valuable experience with sensitive or classified data. In spite of that, Microsoft managed to secure the contract, worth some $10 billion.
Amazon has maintained the bidding process was compromised by comments President Trump made and is challenging the results in court. In the meantime, having Impact Level 6 will only help Microsoft as it continues to challenge Amazon for government work.