Demystifying FedRAMP certification – A comprehensive guide for businesses

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program provides a standardized approach for assessing and monitoring the security of cloud products and services. Achieving FedRAMP certification demonstrates that your cloud offering meets rigorous security and compliance standards required for use by US government agencies. While highly beneficial, navigating the FedRAMP certification process is complex for cloud service providers. Managed by the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO), FedRAMP is a US government-wide program that delivers a standardized approach for security assessment, authorization, and monitoring of cloud products and services.

Core objectives of FedRAMP

  • Accelerating the adoption of secure cloud solutions using reusable assessments and authorizations.
  • Increasing the level of confidence in cloud technology security by ensuring consistency of existing security practices.
  • Establishing a baseline of agreed-upon security authorization standards to ensure consistency.
  • Improving communication about the security of cloud solutions through transparency.
  • Continuously monitoring security controls and compliance framework.

Benefits of FedRAMP certification

Builds trust and credibility with US government agencies to use their cloud products and services. It opens up a hugely lucrative market and opportunity to sell to government agencies. Demonstrates that rigorous security standards and best practices are being followed. Saves on cost and time using existing security assessments and authorizations. Identifies certified cloud providers and provides them with a competitive advantage.

Security controls and requirements

Companies must meet baseline security controls derived from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-53. Maintaining a system security plan with architecture details, security implementations, controls, responsibilities, etc. Performing annual self-assessments of system security controls. Undergoing periodic penetration testing and vulnerability scans. Granting access to security assessment documentation upon FedRAMP’s request. Providing timely notifications on any security incidents. Establishing plans and procedures for continuous monitoring of controls.

FedRAMP certification process step-by-step

Review all program requirements, control guidelines, templates, and training materials located on the FedRAMP website and repositories. Choose an accredited 3PAO that will perform the initial security assessment. Set expectations, introduce the assessment team, and discuss timelines and deliverables. Compile security documentation using FedRAMP templates and guidance. Prepare a plan mapping all requirements to applicable controls.

Implement all required controls and prepare evidence for the assessment process. 3PAO verifies compliance with all control measures through evidence, interviews, and scan results. Resolve any gaps or non-compliances identified during the assessment. An acceptable final report with no major deficiencies is prepared. The entire certification package has been sent to FedRAMP JAB for review and authorization. Once authorized, continuously monitor controls to demonstrate ongoing compliance.

FedRAMP advisory services

Consulting firms offer advisory services that guide companies through the entire FedRAMP process.

  1. Evaluating FedRAMP applicability based on the business model
  2. Acting as liaison to FedRAMP PMO throughout the process
  3. Preparing all documentation per FedRAMP templates
  4. Providing training on FedRAMP requirements
  5. Conducting mock assessments to identify gaps
  6. Remediating findings before conducting an assessment
  7. Responding to 3PAO and JAB clarification requests
  8. Advising on information system design to meet controls

Achieving fedramp certificationdemonstrates to government agencies that cloud services meet rigorous security requirements. While a lengthy process, businesses leverage automation software and expert advisory services to effectively implement FedRAMP controls and prepare for a smooth assessment process.

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