How Amazon Put Ukraine's 'Government in a Box'
Monday December 19, 2022. 07:00 PM , from Slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: Since Februrary, Amazon has been playing Santa Claus to Ukraine, delivering planeloads of goods, including blankets, hygiene kits, diapers, food and toys, for the war-torn nation and refugees in Poland and other parts of Europe. But long term, what's more important to Ukrainians than the gifts coming in is what's going out: massive amounts of government, tax, banking and property data vulnerable to destruction and abuse should Russian invaders get their hands on it. Since the day Russia launched its invasion Feb. 24, Amazon has been working closely with the Ukrainian government to download essential data and ferry it out of the country in suitcase-sized solid-state computer storage units called Snowball Edge, then funneling the data into Amazon's cloud computing system.
'This is the most technologically advanced war in human history,' said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's 31-year-old vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, referring not just to weapons but data too. Amazon Web Services' 'leadership made a decision that saved the Ukrainian government and economy.' Amazon has invested $75 million so far in its Ukraine effort, which includes the data transfer via the Snowballs. Fedorov, speaking at a tech conference in Las Vegas this month, called it 'priceless.' The data, 10 million gigabytes so far, represent 'critical information infrastructure. This is core for operation of the economy, of the tax system, of banks, and the government overall,' he said. The data also include property records whose safekeeping can help prevent theft of Ukrainian homes, businesses and land.
Through history, invaders have 'come in and staged fake referendum and parceled out the land to their chums,' said Liam Maxwell, head of government transformation at Amazon Web Services, the company's highly profitable cloud computing arm. 'That kind of thing has been happening since William the Conquerer.' The Odessa Journal newspaper reported in June that residents of the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol whose homes had been destroyed were being moved into the homes of citizens who had fled the area, and were being forced to find those who left and pressure them to cooperate in some fashion with the Russians. Maxwell, who's based in London, had already been working with Ukraine for years when it became clear by January that Russia planned to attack the country.
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