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What is FedRAMP compliance?

Posted 25th Feb 2024 by Travis Swientek

FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a critical framework for cloud service providers (CSPs) aiming to offer their cloud solutions to the U.S. federal government

What is FedRAMP Compliance?

FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) is a critical framework for cloud service providers (CSPs) aiming to offer their cloud solutions to the U.S. federal government. The FedRAMP security controls are based on NIST SP 800-53 baselines and contain controls, parameters, and guidance above the NIST baseline that address the unique elements of cloud computing. By standardizing the approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring, FedRAMP ensures that cloud products and services meet the stringent security requirements necessary for handling government data.

By enacting FedRAMP, the government aimed to streamline the Cloud Service Provider procurement process. Systems evaluated under FedRAMP for use by U.S. government agencies are commercial cloud-based systems (e.g., IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) used by private-sector enterprises. Once a cloud service provider has successfully completed the FedRAMP assessment by a FedRAMP recognized auditor (3PAO), it is designated as FedRAMP Authorized Cloud Service Offering (CSO).

Cloud Service Offerings (CSOs) are categorized into one of three impact levels: Low, Moderate, and High. Impact levels are the combination of the sensitivity of the federal data to be stored and/or processed in the cloud and the potential impact of an event that results in the loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of that information.

FedRAMP Governance

The FedRAMP board is the primary governance and decision-making body for FedRAMP. The board consists of the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the General Services Administration (GSA).
FedRAMP requirements apply to all federal agencies when federal information is collected, maintained, processed, disseminated, or disposed of by Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).

Key stakeholders include:

  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB): the governing body that issued the FedRAMP policy memo which defines the key requirements and capabilities of the program.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council: disseminates FedRAMP information to Federal CIOs and other representatives through cross-agency communications and events.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): advises FedRAMP on Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) compliance requirements.
  • Federal Secure Cloud Advisory Committee (FSCAC): provides advice and recommendations to the GSA Administrator, the FedRAMP Board, and agencies on technical, financial, programmatic, and operational matters regarding secure adoption of cloud computing products and services.

Components of FedRAMP Compliance

  • Security Assessment: CSPs undergo rigorous evaluations by accredited Third-Party Assessment Organizations (3PAOs) to verify that their security controls meet the FedRAMP baseline requirements.
  • Authorization: Successful completion of the security assessment and remediation of any issues lead to submitting an authorization package to the FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO) or the Board (formerly known as Joint Authorization Board or JAB) for approval and receiving an Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO). A CSP can also receive an Authorization to Operate (ATO) directly from an agency.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Post-authorization, CSPs must adhere to continuous monitoring protocols to maintain compliance, including regular updates, vulnerability scans, and incident reporting.
  • FedRAMP Marketplace: Authorized CSPs are listed in the FedRAMP Marketplace, making it easier for federal agencies to find and procure compliant cloud services.

Achieving FedRAMP Compliance

For CSPs, achieving FedRAMP authorization is not just about expanding their potential customer base to include federal agencies; it's also a testament to the robustness of their cybersecurity practices. Compliance with FedRAMP standards signifies a commitment to protecting sensitive federal information, thereby instilling confidence in government and non-government customers alike regarding the CSP's dedication to security.

Achieving and maintaining FedRAMP compliance presents several challenges for CSPs, including navigating the complexity of the FedRAMP authorization process, meeting the stringent security requirements, and committing the necessary resources for continuous monitoring and compliance activities.

Teleport Take

Teleport Access Platform streamlines access management for cloud computing environments, embracing the principles of least privilege and zero trust — core tenets of the FedRAMP framework. Our approach to simplifying infrastructure access includes:

  • Robust Security Controls: Teleport's architecture is designed to meet or exceed FedRAMP's stringent security controls, offering strong authentication, authorization, and encryption to protect sensitive data.
  • Simplified Compliance: By centralizing access management and providing comprehensive logging and monitoring capabilities, Teleport helps organizations align with FedRAMP's continuous monitoring requirements, making it easier to maintain compliance.
  • Enhanced Visibility and Auditability: Teleport offers detailed audit trails and session recordings, crucial for meeting FedRAMP's documentation and reporting requirements, thereby aiding in the transparency and accountability of access to federal information systems.

Teleport's commitment to security and compliance makes it an ideal solution for organizations navigating the complexities of FedRAMP certification. By leveraging Teleport, CSPs and federal agencies can ensure secure, compliant access management across their cloud environments, fostering a secure cloud security and digital transformation within the federal sector.