What is FedRAMP?
That’s a good question if you’ve been curious about what it is and if it applies to you. For example, do you have a cloud product that the US Government would gain benefit from using? Are you being asked to seek a security approval or an “ATO” by your customer? We’ll go through the basics of FedRAMP in this article to help you understand where you stand in that process.
FedRAMP is a government-wide program. Companies can become FedRAMP certified and approved to sell their products to government agencies.
FedRAMP standards ensure secure cloud services across all federal government channels. In addition, the FedRAMP system provides a standardized approach to security risk assessments.
What Does FedRAMP Mean?
FedRAMP is the acronym for the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program. It began in 2011 by the U.S. Government to standardize an approach to security issues associated with cloud products and services used by government agencies. The US Government needed a way to control and secure all cloud service products and companies that want to do business with any agency of the US government.
The Problem with Cloud Security before FedRAMP
FedRAMP is a universal language that all those who use it and are FedRAMP certified can communicate and conduct business with U.S. agencies. Before FedRAMP certification was developed, the problem existed that every agency had its own way of communicating. However, neither agency nor company entity could directly do business with each other unless they accepted the agencies governing cybersecurity platform.
The National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST) had not been implemented yet by any Federal organization. Without a unifying standard in place, working with multiple U.S. Government agencies meant that a business entity had to know several different and unique agency platforms in order to do business with them. If a business entity didn’t learn the particular language of the agency’s platform, it would not be on the approved list until it had become certified.
As a result, agencies could not communicate with each other, and the procurement process became chaotic. Even though each agency had its own approach, it was like introducing the English language to people who only spoke Greek. The programs and languages were incompatible with each other.
The FedRamp certification hasn’t been easily accepted with the individual agencies. One might have thought that because cloud security was so new, a security platform that unified each agency’s security program would help keep things orderly. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Each agency quickly developed their own particular cybersecurity approach and methodology to deal with security issues. This diversification created problems for businesses trying to be certified by Government Agencies and their various approval programs.
Agencies with their own systems had no desire to change their programs for several reasons:
- It’s too long of a learning curve to move to a new standard
- The new standard is confusing for suppliers and their cybersecurity experts
- Agencies are comfortable with their respective platforms
- Agencies have integrated business processes tied to their unique platforms that would have to be changed to integrate with FedRAMP
These excuses make it harder for outside businesses to get approved by specific agencies that aren’t following the FedRAMP standard. If Agencies had FedRAMP in place, the standardized activity would change budgets and bottom lines – for the better!
Out of the vast numbers of agencies and businesses that could do business with the Federal Government and the subsequent agencies, the number of authorized FedRAMP certified companies is still below 300. Currently, there are only 82 companies that are in process of becoming FedRAMP certified, meaning they are actively working toward a FedRAMP authorization. Additionally, there are 23 companies that are considered ready – which means a C3PAO attests to their security capabilities and a Readiness Assessment Report (RAR) has been reviewed and deemed acceptable by the FedRAMP PMO. You can view the current statistics on the marketplace.FedRAMP.gov website.
When Did FedRAMP begin?
Before the digital age, information was stored in private hubs and on disks, which became slow and cumbersome to process and too bulky to store long term.. Enter the digital age where business between the government and their suppliers was forced to focus on security. Certain things like viruses and breaches of private information became prevalent, making it hard for information to be kept secure and private. Social engineering campaigns, utilizing email, targeted government and DoD agencies, and their suppliers, and introduced virus and malware into systems and networks previously thought to be secure. The U.S. Government developed ways to track and block a majority of these harmful viruses and generated public safety announcements for the general public.
As a result, government employees could no longer check their personal email on government owned computers. The private sector was greatly impacted and in many cases their business came to a complete stop while addressing virus outbreaks. And in extreme cases suffered the loss of critical data.
When “Cloud Based Computing” came into existence, it was not utilized by most agencies and their suppliers due to the insecure nature of the internet. By this time, most federal agencies had developed their own specific security programs to adapt to the ongoing changes in the digital climate.
By 2011, the concept of “cloud security” became real when programs were developed to protect the way governmental authorities did business over the internet and within the cloud. However, this created a problem as each company that wanted to do business with a government agency needed to learn their specific way of gaining security approval and to be listed as an accepted vendor. Each vendor representative had to understand a different cloud-based security program to work with a specific agency. This complexity created more problems than it solved.
FedRAMP was developed in 2011 by the U.S. Government to aid, universally, the vendors who need to do business with U.S. Agencies. Contractors needed to attain what’s known as a FedRAMP Certification to be approved to do business with federal agencies. FedRAMP Certification status provided a civilian company the ability to work with agencies as long as their approval status remained compliant to FedRAMP standards.
FedRAMP is a matter of record now. It’s the accepted standard for companies needing security approval to conduct business with government agencies. There are many complex requirements in the FedRAMP standard and certification may seem impossible for many organizations. This where a Trusted Advisor, like Ignyte, can provide the expertise needed to obtain FedRAMP certification.
Ignyte is a FedRAMP recognized Third-Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) listed on the FedRAMP marketplace. Ignyte maintains a team of experienced auditors, many of which are formal military, and have the expertise to help your organization become FedRAMP certified.
Utilizing our award winning Ignyte Assurance Platform™ (www.Ignyteplatform.com), your organization will be able to expertly govern the FedRAMP compliance process from initiation to the completion of a successful audit! Additionally, the Ignyte Assurance Platform™ helps to ensure that you can maintain compliance with automated workflows and notifications aligned to critical compliance processes, document repository for storing your evidence, data driven integration with security tools like vulnerability scanners, dashboards, and so much more.
Contact us today to learn how Ignyte can help your organization become FedRAMP certified!.