Google Apps FISMA Certified Amid IT Security Concerns

By Leah Gabriel Nurik  |  Print this article Print

Even as the delay of the Los Angeles municipal implementation of Google Apps was in the spotlight due to an expensive delay, Google has announced that its Google Apps has received FISMA certification.

Google revealed today that it will answer security critics and build out its government customer base with a new version of Google Apps, specifically for the government sector, complete with FISMA certification.

Google said in its Official Enterprise Blog that Google Apps for Government is the industry's "first suite of cloud computing applications to receive Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) certification and accreditation from the U.S. government." That's a big score for Google, which has been fighting security criticisms very publicly for the past couple of months.

The new suite is designed for use by federal, state and local agencies, and includes the standard Google Apps applications such as Gmail, calendaring, Google Docs for file sharing, intranets and video.

Here's what is different: Google Apps for Government is hosted on a segregated infrastructure that is dedicated to government customers only, and the suite offers FISMA security certification.

Google is hoping the certification will help ease government and federal concerns enough to facilitate a move to the cloud. The FISMA certification granted to Google is at the "moderate level," which means Google Apps for Government is cleared for "sensitive" data, but not classified data. "Sensitive" data and lower classifications, however, make up 80 percent of government data.

Google points to customers such as the city of Los Angles, the city of Orlando, Fla., and Berkeley Lab, a member of the U.S. Department of Energy's national laboratory system. At Berkeley Lab, Google Apps is being used to primarily share document versions of its unclassified research among several collaborators around the globe. However, the city of Los Angeles' Google Apps implementation, which was supposed to be completed in June, has been delayed due to the police department's concern over security.

Google says that FISMA certification is not the last of its attempts to provide solutions for the government sector, and says that other applications will follow in the near future and that Google Apps for Government "will continue to evolve to meet unique government requirements."

Last September, on the heels of the federal CIO Vivek Kundra's debut of Apps.gov, a marketplace portal where government agencies can get cloud applications and services, Google announced it would seek federal certification for a government version of its Google Apps. It received certification last Thursday. FISMA is a federal certification, even though the product is being positioned for purchase across the public sector, including state and local agencies.