The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) was established in 2011 and provides a risk-based approach to the adoption and use of secure cloud services. FedRAMP delivers guidance to corporate and governmental organizations in an attempt to increase efficiency and reduce duplicity associated with security authorization processes.
The risk management program was created to support the government’s cloud computing plan and help reduce the time and money that agencies would otherwise have to spend assessing the security of cloud service providers (CSPs). While the FedRAMP certification process is quite rigorous, CSPs that become certified have the opportunity to work with governmental agencies.
FedRAMP’s security baselines are based on NIST SP 800-53, along with a specific set of control enhancements that relate to the unique security requirements of cloud computing. Learn more about this program and how to become FedRAMP certified.
Why Should You Become FedRAMP Certified?
The FedRAMP authorization program was developed by the federal government to provide a standardized approach to security authorization, assessment, and continuous monitoring for cloud services and products. There are many reasons why a business may choose to become FedRAMP certified, including the following:
- Ability to sell cloud services or products to the federal government. FedRAMP is now mandatory for all cloud service offerings (CSOs) used by federal agencies, meaning businesses cannot do business with federal or governmental agencies without first becoming FedRAMP certified. Without this certification, businesses could be losing out on significant revenue.
- Instill confidence in the security of the cloud services or products. Security is a major concern when it comes to cloud-based services and products used by the federal government. CSPs who go through the complex process of becoming certified often appear more trustworthy in the eyes of governmental agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) or the Department of Justice (DOJ).
- Just one FedRAMP assessment is needed as it can be reused. Cloud service providers need to undergo a single assessment to gain an Authority to Operate (ATO) from several federal agencies. After completing the assessment, it is posted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Max repository where any federal agency can review the package and choose to grant an ATO.
- FedRAMP certification can help organizations with other programs. Some federal agencies, such as the DOD, have additional requirements for CSPs. Cloud service providers that become FedRAMP certified can leverage their FedRAMP status to help meet these requirements.
What are the Steps to Become FedRAMP Certified?
There are two main ways that cloud service providers can become FedRAMP certified. First, they can obtain an ATO which requires CSPs to work directly with a specified agency during the agency authorization process. After partnering with a federal agency partner, the agency approves the CSP and arranges approval from the FedRAMP Program Management Office. If approved, the CSP is issued an ATO which allows the business to work with the specific agency.
Cloud service providers can also obtain a Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO) through the Joint Authorization Board (JAB). The JAB refers to a governing body of the FedRAMP program that consists of the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the DOD.
During this process, the JAB issues a provisional authorization that signifies that the agency’s risks have been reviewed. While this is an important initial approval, agencies that wish to use the service will still need to issue their own ATO.
Regardless of the type of authorization that a business chooses to pursue, the FedRAMP certification process involves several primary steps:
1. Pre-Authorization Stage
The pre-authorization stage establishes a foundation for FedRAMP certification. First, the CSP must form a partnership with governmental agency customers. A cloud service provider should also form a partnership with a reputable FedRAMP-approved third-party assessment organization (3PAO). The 3PAO will be the evaluator for FedRAMP certification. During the process, the CSP must document each step taken to gain certification with documents like RFIs, RFPs and RFQs.
2. Authorization Stage
After building a foundation in the pre-authorization stage, a CSP can move on to the actual authorization process. There are three main steps in this stage, including package development, assessment, and authorization.
3. Post-Authorization Stage
Even after becoming FedRAMP certified, CSPs must continue to perform ongoing monitoring and management to ensure that their security efforts remain effective. CSPs must provide the agencies that they work with proof of monitoring each month to help mitigate the risk of security vulnerabilities.
Speak with the IT Experts at SeaGlass Technology
FedRAMP authorization is a challenging endeavor that consists of 14 applicable laws and regulations, in addition to 19 standards and guidance documents. It is considered one of the most rigorous software-as-a-service (SaaS) certifications in the world. To learn more about how to become FedRAMP certified, contact the IT professionals at SeaGlass Technology.