Obtaining FedRAMP compliance is no easy feat. According to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, this process can take anywhere from six months to two years and cost businesses upwards of $500,000. Despite the challenges that many organizations face when working towards compliance, achieving certification can be highly rewarding and prosperous.
FedRAMP enables the federal government to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing technologies by establishing transparent processes and standards for security authorizations. Learn more about obtaining FedRAMP compliance and the importance of becoming FedRAMP certified.
What is FedRAMP?
The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a program used to evaluate and authorize cloud service providers’ (CSPs) service offerings. This in-depth and rigorous process was established in 2011 by the Office of Management and Budget to create a risk-based, cost-effective approach to the adoption of cloud-based services by the federal government.
Only cloud service providers with FedRAMP certification can work with government agencies in the U.S. The program was initiated in response to the government’s 2011 Cloud First Policy. Before a cloud service offering (CSO) can be used by a federal agency, it must first demonstrate that it meets FedRAMP compliance requirements. Each requirement is outlined in NIST 800-53 and further supplemented by the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO).
To achieve FedRAMP compliance and authorization, CSPs must achieve the following high-level requirements:
- Complete FedRAMP documentation including FedRAMP SSP
- Implement controls that comply with FIPS 199 categorization
- Undergo assessment of cloud offerings by a FedRAMP third-party assessment organization (3PAO)
- Develop a Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M)
- Acquire Joint Authorization Board (JAB), Provision ATO (P-ATO), or Agency ATO
- Establish a Continuous Monitoring (ConMon) program that includes monthly vulnerability scans
Why is FedRAMP Compliance Important?
Becoming a FedRAMP-certified organization is critical for the success of any cloud service provider that wishes to work with the federal government. Here are some of the reasons why obtaining FedRAMP compliance is important for CSPs.
1. Confidently Sell Services to the Federal Government
FedRAMP has become mandatory for all cloud services used by the federal government, meaning that if a CSP wishes to work with a government agency, FedRAMP authorization must be an essential part of their security plan. Cloud service providers that do not obtain FedRAMP compliance are potentially missing out on a significant revenue stream.
2. Establish Confidence in the Security of Services
Cloud service providers are responsible for handling sensitive government information. Obtaining FedRAMP authorization shows that the business has strived to meet the highest standards in cloud security. Customers are more likely to put their trust in a provider that has met compliance requirements and is considered secure enough to do business with agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Justice (DOJ).
3. Get Listed on the FedRAMP Marketplace
FedRAMP-authorized businesses can attract more attention when they become listed on the FedRAMP Marketplace. The marketplace is often the first place that government agencies go when they want to find a new cloud-based solution. Agencies often prefer choosing a CSP from the FedRAMP Marketplace as it is faster and easier than starting the authorization process from scratch with a new vendor.
4. Reuse FedRAMP Assessments Across Multiple Agencies
Although obtaining FedRAMP compliance can be a long and tedious journey, it is not a process that needs to be completed frequently. Just one assessment is required to gain an Authority to Operate (ATO) from several federal agencies. After completing an assessment, it is posted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Max repository where the package can be reviewed by other federal agencies and granted an ATO based on the review.
5. Aid in IT Modernization and Transformation
Cloud service providers that obtain FedRAMP compliance are doing their part to help with IT modernization and transformation. FedRAMP enables agencies to quickly adapt from old and insecure legacy IT to cost-effective, mission-driven, cloud-based IT. With FedRAMP, government agencies can ensure effective and repeatable cloud security through a core set of stringent processes.
6. Simplify Security for the Digital Age
Technology is continually evolving and businesses must keep pace or risk falling behind their competitors. FedRAMP helps to simplify security for the digital age by delivering a standardized approach to cloud security. Some examples of FedRAMP-authorized solutions include virus scanning, continuous monitoring, IP whitelisting, audit trail, incident response plan, vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection.
Getting FedRAMP authorization can be a difficult endeavor as there are 14 applicable laws and regulations that businesses must meet, along with 19 standards and guidance documents. FedRAMP is considered one of the most rigorous software-as-a-service certifications in the world and just over 200 cloud service offerings have been authorized since the start of the program.
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