FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France

(Reuters) -Britain’s spy agencies have given a contract to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host classified material in a deal aimed at boosting the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for espionage, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Britain’s GCHQ spy agency championed the procurement of a high-security cloud system and it will be used by sister services MI5 and MI6, as well as other government departments such as the Ministry of Defence during joint operations, the report added.

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The agreement was signed this year with AWS, Amazon.com Inc’s cloud service unit, and the data of all the agencies will be held in Britain, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

GCHQ said it would not comment on reports about its relationships with tech suppliers. AWS declined to comment on the report.

In February, Britain’s cyber spies at the GCHQ eavesdropping agency said they had fully embraced artificial intelligence to uncover patterns in vast amounts of global data to counter hostile disinformation and snare child abusers.

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GCHQ has been using basic forms of AI such as translation technology for years but is now stepping up its use, partly in response to the use of AI by hostile states and partly due to the data explosion that makes it effective.

Earlier on Monday, GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming told a conference the number of ransomware attacks had doubled across the UK in 2021, compared with last year, according to the FT.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Akriti Sharma; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney)

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