Time to read: 5 mins
What is FedRAMP?
FedRAMP, which stands for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, is a U.S. government program that provides a standardized approach for assessing, authorizing, and monitoring the security of cloud service providers (CSPs) used by federal agencies.
The goal of FedRAMP is to ensure the security and protection of federal government data in the cloud. It establishes a framework for evaluating the security capabilities and practices of CSPs to ensure they meet the security requirements set by the U.S. government.
The key components of FedRAMP are:
- Security Assessment: CSPs undergo a comprehensive security assessment conducted by a FedRAMP-accredited Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) that evaluates the CSP’s security controls, infrastructure, policies, and procedures.
- Authorization Process: The authorization process from the Joint Authorization Board (JAB) or an individual federal agency involves the review and approval of the CSP’s security documentation and assessment reports. FedRAMP categorizes cloud services into three authorization levels—Low, Moderate, and High—based on the potential impact and sensitivity of the data being processed, stored, or transmitted.
- Reusability and Reciprocity: FedRAMP promotes the concept of reusability and reciprocity, which means that the security assessment and authorization of a CSP can be leveraged by multiple federal agencies. This avoids duplication of efforts and accelerates the adoption of secure cloud services across the government.
- Government Cloud Marketplace: FedRAMP operates a centralized repository called the FedRAMP Marketplace, which provides a catalog of authorized CSPs and their respective cloud services. Federal agencies can use this marketplace to identify and select CSPs that have met the rigorous security standards.
By implementing FedRAMP, the U.S. government aims to improve the security, consistency, and efficiency of cloud services used by federal agencies. It ensures that federal data in the cloud is protected and that CSPs meet stringent security standards, reducing risks and enhancing the overall security posture of government information systems.
What are the steps to obtain a FedRAMP certification?
Becoming FedRAMP certified as a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) involves a comprehensive process to demonstrate compliance with the FedRAMP requirements. Here are the general steps to pursue FedRAMP certification:
- Understand FedRAMP Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the FedRAMP security requirements and guidelines.
- Select a FedRAMP Accredited Third-Party Assessor Organization (3PAO): Engage a FedRAMP-accredited 3PAO for an independent assessment.
- Develop System Security Plan (SSP): Create a comprehensive plan outlining your cloud service’s security controls.
- Implement Security Controls: Put in place the necessary technical, administrative, and physical security measures.
- Conduct Security Assessment: Collaborate with the 3PAO to evaluate your security controls and identify vulnerabilities.
- Submit Security Assessment Package: Prepare and submit the required documentation to the FedRAMP Program Management Office.
- Perform Continuous Monitoring: Establish an ongoing monitoring program to ensure compliance.
- FedRAMP Authorization Process: Work with the FedRAMP PMO to undergo the authorization process and receive certification.
It’s important to note that the process may vary depending on the specific FedRAMP requirements and the complexity of your cloud service. Engaging with a FedRAMP-accredited 3PAO and consulting the official FedRAMP documentation and guidance are essential for a successful certification journey.
Why is FedRAMP a security best practice?
FedRAMP sets high-security standards for cloud service providers (CSPs), requiring them to implement robust security controls, undergo independent assessments, and adhere to continuous monitoring practices. It takes a risk-based approach to identify and mitigate risks associated with cloud services, ensuring data protection and system integrity.
By providing a standardized framework, FedRAMP streamlines security assessments and authorizations, fostering collaboration among federal agencies, CSPs, and third-party assessment organizations. FedRAMP’s assurance and trust-building measures instill confidence in the security and reliability of cloud services. Overall, FedRAMP is a comprehensive and trusted approach to securing cloud-based systems, making it a security best practice.
What are the key differences between FedRAMP and NIST?
Both FedRAMP and NIST play important roles in ensuring security and compliance, especially in the realm of cloud-forward companies.
While FedRAMP specifically addresses cloud service providers for government agencies, NIST has a broader scope and develops standards, guidelines, and best practices for cybersecurity across various sectors. Its publications serve as foundational resources for cybersecurity practices and are widely adopted by organizations to enhance their security and compliance measures.
FedRAMP leverages NIST standards as a foundation for its security requirements. The FedRAMP framework references and incorporates many NIST controls, ensuring that CSPs meet recognized industry standards and best practices. NIST guidelines serve as a roadmap for implementing robust security measures, conducting risk assessments, and establishing security protocols.
FedRAMP and NIST are key players in promoting security and compliance. FedRAMP focuses on evaluating cloud services for federal government use, while NIST develops wider spread cybersecurity standards and guidelines but both emphasize collaboration with industry, academia, and other stakeholders to advance cybersecurity standards, technology, and research.
FedRAMP is a government program that focuses on establishing a framework for evaluating the security capabilities and practices of CSPs to ensure they meet the security requirements. FedRAMP and NIST complement each other in the overall cybersecurity landscape. FedRAMP addresses the specific needs of cloud service providers and federal agencies, while NIST provides broader guidance and resources applicable to a wider audience. Implementing FedRAMP is a security best practice because of the risk based and collaborative approach taken toward creating security protocols that secure cloud based systems.