The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) has been in place for just over a decade (2011). Its purpose is to provide a “cost-effective, risk-based approach for the adoption and use of cloud services” by the federal government. This is to equip and enable federal agencies to utilize cloud technologies in a way that minimizes risk exposure through security and protection of federal information and processes. It is to promote the use of secure cloud services through the standardization of security and risk assessments with corresponding controls to mitigate risk. Through FedRAMP, federal agencies gain access to FedRAMP authorized and certified cloud services that are vetted and approved to ensure they conform to controls and compliance requirements to minimize risk exposure.
However, for cloud service providers (CSPs) the FedRAMP process is not easy. It requires a lot of defined structure, controls, and processes for ongoing management of security controls, risk assessments, and response. FedRAMP authorization and certification can be a daunting process. Organizations seeking FedRAMP certification need to ensure they have the right security architecture and processes in place and maintained on a continuous basis with a full audit trail and system of record of FedRAMP requirements, related activities, assessments, and controls.
Managing and maintaining FedRAMP certification in manual processes will lead to the inevitability of failure. Organizations will find themselves in an array of confusing documents that overwhelm them and lack the audit trail and system of record to achieve and maintain FedRAMP compliance. However, a lot of software applications available to manage FedRAMP compliance also come with their costs to implement and maintain as well.
Organizations looking to achieve FedRAMP compliance should look for a platform that is:
- Efficient. There is a lot to FedRAMP authorization, certification, reporting, and ongoing compliance monitoring. Organizations should look to solutions that ease and automate the time needed in these processes, but also that are solutions that are easy to deploy and maintain themselves. There are solutions on the market that can relieve the time needed to automate FedRAMP but the cost to implement and maintain these solutions can also be steep. Organizations need FedRAMP compliance solutions that have a low cost of ownership in implementation and maintenance while these simultaneously relieve the ongoing FedRAMP compliance burden on an ongoing basis. That is where the greatest return on investment will be achieved.
- Effective. At the end of the day, FedRAMP certification and compliance are about reduced risk exposure. Organizations need a solution that can provide ongoing monitoring and reporting of controls in cloud environments to ensure that security controls to mitigate risk are not just documented but also operational. This enables and streamlines ongoing FedRAMP authorization, certification, and reporting.
- Agile. One of the greatest challenges in managing risk and staying FedRAMP compliant is keeping up with change. Business changes, employees change, roles change, threats change, and cloud technology itself changes. Organizations need FedRAMP compliance software that is agile to adjust to changes in the operational and technology environment to ensure that the organizations remain in a continuous state of compliance amidst change.
- Accountable. At the end of the day, FedRAMP is about ensuring controls and processes to reduce or eliminate risk exposure are in place for cloud services. This requires clear and detailed audit trails and a system of record of all assessments and monitoring activities for compliance and controls. Organizations seeking ongoing FedRAMP assurance need compliance solutions that provide a robust audit trail and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
- Complete. FedRAMP compliance is a continuous and ongoing process. Any solution used to manage FedRAMP needs to be able to document and maintain compliance from initial FedRAMP certification and authorization through the processes of maintaining compliance and assurance to FedRAMP.
FedRAMP compliance technology in the end reduces redundancy, inconsistencies, and inefficiency while being agile in a changing business, operational, and cloud technology environment. This ensures the cloud platform minimizes risk exposure to the federal agency while allowing the federal agency to be assured that its technical and operational infrastructure in the cloud is controlled and monitored to standards and requirements. Cloud service providers need to implement solutions that manage the entire project and lifecycle for FedRAMP compliance on an ongoing continuous basis to ensure adherence and maintain certification.