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FedRAMP Service

An Introduction to FedRAMP stands for….

Not to pat ourselves on the back, but this article serves the purpose of helping out our readers and clients. Many of them have expressed confusion about what FedRAMP is and what it does. If you’re one of these people, you’re in the right place. This article’s designed to give you a quick overview of FedRAMP. Are you ready? Let’s dive right into it.  

What is FedRAMP?

  FedRAMP stands for “Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.” It’s designed by the United States government. Why? To provide a standard approach when it comes to internet security. This includes factors such as:
  • -security authorizations
  • -security assessments
  • -the monitoring of any secure cloud service or product
This government program helps businesses apply best practices to their cloud technology techniques. This is so companies can maintain a high level of protection and security. That security prevents federal information from getting into the wrong hands. It also assists in ensuring cloud solutions get handled in an appropriate manner.  

The Two Major FedRAMP Entities

  There are two major entities associated with FedRAMP: 1) The JAB. JAB stands for “Joint Authorization Board Jab.” CIOs serve as the major figures that are members of this board. CIO stands for “chief information officer.” The CIOs come from:
  • -the Department of Homeland Security
  • -the Department of Defense
  • -the General Services Administration
JAB plays a crucial role in governing the actions of FedRAMP. In fact, the members of JAB serve as the official decision-makers of FedRAMP authorized. Most online applicants get their cloud services authorized through JAB. JAB takes part in the process by applying P-ATO. P-ATO is government’s official way of abbreviating “provisional authorization.” But keep in mind you can get your cloud services authorized through other means. There are other individual government agencies that can assist you. But JAB is often the easiest route to take. 2) The PMO. PMO stands for “Program Management Office.” This entity operates inside the GSA. GSA stands for “General Services Administration.” What is its mission? To lend a helping hand toward cloud service providers and various support agencies. This takes place though FedRAMP’s official authorization process. The PMO also keeps secured online storage of authorizations approved by FedRAMP. This ensures that security packages can get re-used whenever necessary.  

How Was FedRAMP Created?

  Let’s go back to the year 2011. This was when the OMB began to create the Federal Risk and Authorization Program. OMB stands for “Office of Management and Budget.” Why did the OMB decide to create FedRAMP? Many parties had been complaining for a decade about cost and risk issues. As you may know, operating a cloud service can carry a series of big risks and costs. But FedRAMP’s creation was not only for the benefit of cloud service parties. It was also designed to assist government agencies/departments with cloud service needs. The GSA made FedRAMP official in June of 2012. The program was an immediate success. Cloud services that applied to the government program soon became easier to manage. Finally, some structure was in place. Risk assessments became easier to maintain. The OMB then alerted all relevant parties of an important notion. All cloud services with access to government information must get authorized by FedRAMP. FedRAMP’s security requirements simplified many processes for cloud providers. There was a lot of confusion before FedRAMP existed. Why? Because each federal agency had its own guidelines. The agencies were operating with independent methods about cloud service operations. This was due to 2002’s Federal Information Security Management Act. The creation of FedRAMP made that act obsolete.  

The Three Major Partners of FedRAMP

  1) US federal agencies. No entity has benefitted more from FedRAMP than all the federal agencies. FedRAMP ensures that each agency saves two crucial factors: time and money. This is due to the innovations FedRAMP has helped stimulate for many cloud services. Any federal government agency can now get their needs taken care of faster thanks to FedRAMP. 2) 3PAOs. 3PAO stands for “third party assessment organization.” What do these organizations do? They conduct regular cloud system assessments. This is to make sure that all cloud companies conform to FedRAMP rules and regulations. 3) Cloud service providers. FedRAMP guidelines assist cloud service providers of all shapes and sizes. Vendors now have an official resource for how to conduct best practices. Almost all federal agencies now depend on FedRAMP’s cloud service providers. The quality of most cloud services has improved since FedRAMP got created.  

The Official Marketplace

FedRAMP features its own online marketplace. It is a database in which people can locate the best CSOs. Every CSO in the marketplace has official FedRAMP certification. Besides CSOs, accredited auditors are also featured in the FedRAMP Marketplace. Each accredited author first has to take a FedRAMP assessment. What are these assessments called? “3PAOs.” You can access more information about taking assessments on the FedRAMP website. The PMO of FedRAMP operates and maintains the FedRAMP Marketplace.  

The Requirements of FedRAMP

Are you a cloud provider seeking to become a CSP for FedRAMP? If so, there is plenty of information that you will need to read. Your first step should be to access the GSA’s official guide. It’s called the “Guide To Understanding FedRAMP.” Set aside an hour or two of your time so that you can read it. This is because the PDF is fifty-eight pages long. But if you are serous about becoming a FedRAMP CSP, it is well worth your time. Otherwise, FedRAMP’s requirements may appear too ambiguous in other resources. Here are the main requirements for your organization to become a CSP:
      • -you must be able attend to all types of electronic discoveries
      • -you must be able attend to all types of litigation holds
      • -you must be able to communicate what your specific system boundaries are
      • -you must provide proof you know how to recognize client responsibilities/operate controls
      • -two-factor authentication for access to the network for privileged accounts
      • -two-factor authentication for access to the network for non-privileged accounts
      • -two-factor authentication for access to the network for all privileged accounts’ local access
      • -ability to conduct code analysis scans
      • -ability to secure boundary protections with assets isolated
      • -remediation skills that apply to all high risk issues within one month’s time
      • -willingness to provide build standards for any type of device
      • -system safeguards that stop information transfers that have not gotten authorized
      • -cryptographic safeguards that ensure data remains private during all transmissions
 

Is Working With FedRAMP Necessary?

Yes. FedRAMP applies to any service models/cloud deployments that work with federal agencies. The level of risk impact makes no difference. It could be low. It could be moderate. Or it could be high. But in all cases, the models and deployments have no choice but to work with FedRAMP. There is only one exception to this. Your organization must meet the following criteria:
      • -you must work for a private cloud deployment
      • -that deployment can only apply for specific organizations
      • -the deployment must get 100% implemented inside a federal facility
FedRAMP also requires that every agency has to send out a report once per quarter. The report has to get featured in PortfolioStat. Each report should list every cloud service that doesn’t meet the standards of FedRAMP. A detailed reason should get written next to each cloud service. Agencies are welcome to also write a proposal for how they can get in good standing with FedRAMP.,/p>  

FedRAMP Compliance Requirements

  It’s important to understand all FedRAMP compliance requirements. This process must take place before a CSO can work with any federal agency. CSO stands for cloud service offering. There are many compliance stipulations associated with commercial CSOs. So, where can you view the requirements? They are all outlined in the NIST 800-53. It’s a special catalog featuring privacy and security controls. They apply to every US federal information system. The only exception is for CSOs that focus on national security. You can also view the requirements by contacting the FedRAMP PMO. PMO stands for Program Management Office. One of their representatives can go over all the basic requirements. Plus, you can also learn more about authorization policies for CSPs. That authorization gets granted though the FedRAMP ATO. ATO stands for Authority to Operate. Make sure that you and your team learn about every high-level requirement. Otherwise, you might not gain authorization and compliance.  

FedRAMP Cloud Security Controls

Many of our clients get confused about who operates the cloud security controls. Here is the short-answer. It depends on the situation. To be a little more specific, it depends on the proposed solution. Both third-parties and the CSP must take care of certain standardized approach to security controls. Understanding this notion of shared responsibility can seem confusing. If you are uncertain of your organization’s role, you should contact FedRAMP. Keep in mind that the CSP has created a CIS. CIS stands for “Control Implementation Summary.” It features an outline of the common controls that the CSP operates. It also introduces you to the main responsibilities of hybrid-controls and third-party controls. Keep in mind that the CSP does not stop there. It has also created an SSP. SSP stands for “System Security Plan.” This plan has answered a lot of third-party questions. The SSP details the key control responsibilities. It also explains how each control can affect certain common entities. You might want to have your team take a look at some SSP and CIS templates. Both of which are always featured on FedRAMP’s official government website.,/p>