FedRAMP is a cybersecurity framework that any cloud service or product provider working with the federal government must comply with. Like NIST SP800-53, NIST SP 800-171 and 172, or DoD's CMMC, FedRAMP requires organizations to certify and maintain compliance by monitoring designated categories. Each framework has security controls that intensify as vendors move from low to high-security levels. So, what are the FedRAMP compliance requirements?

What is FedRAMP Compliance?

FedRAMP divides cybersecurity tasks into Access Control, Physical Security, and Supply Chain Risk Management categories. Under each category is a list of controls that specify how a provider achieves compliance. The number of security controls depends on the security level requirement. FedRamp divides compliance into three levels based on the impact of a loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

  • Low Impact. Cloud services and products that can access government information but are limited to data that has minimal impact on an agency's operations, including assets and personnel.

  • Moderate Impact. Most providers fall in the moderate level where they have access to personally identifiable information (PII) that could have an adverse effect on a government agency.

  • High Impact. Organizations falling in the high-impact group have access to sensitive information that could have a catastrophic impact on a federal agency or government entity.

The first step in achieving compliance is understanding the FedRAMP requirements for classifying a provider at a low, moderate, or high level.

What Are the Requirements for FedRAMP Compliance?

Compliance means adhering to the security controls listed under the corresponding impact level. For example, the first security control under Access Control (AC-1) requires a high-level provider to develop, document, disseminate, and maintain policies and procedures related to access control annually. Moderate and low-level organizations must update and review every three years, with only significant changes added annually.

Meeting FedRAMP compliance requirements significantly differs for high-level companies from moderate or low-level businesses. Knowing the impact level is vital in determining the time and resources to remain compliant. Low-level companies must adhere to 125 controls, and moderate businesses to 325. High-level organizations have 425 cybersecurity controls to meet for compliance.

Before starting the compliance process, cloud service and product providers should self-assess using the appropriate standards. The process helps identify the current security status and what is required to comply.

How Hard is FedRAMP Certification?

FedRAMP certification takes time. It requires establishing policies and procedures for mitigating cybersecurity risks. The certification process is designed to help those contracting with the federal government identify weaknesses and develop a plan to minimize those risks. When completed, cloud service and product providers should have an infrastructure that reduces the chance of disruption from a cyberattack.

Whether a company performs a self-assessment alone or with the help of a security professional, the results should identify the areas that are out of compliance. Once identified, organizations can address the weaknesses to ensure they can pass a Full Security Assessment. They can schedule a full security assessment when they believe their system complies.

A full security assessment is a system audit by a third-party assessment organization (3PAO). The auditors submit a report detailing the results of their tests and include a recommendation for FedRamp Authorization.

Once certified, cloud service and product providers enter the continuous monitoring phase. As part of the process, providers must submit results from vulnerability testing, incident reports, and other deliverables as outlined in the FedRAMP framework.

Who is Required to be FedRAMP Compliant?

Any provider of cloud services or products to a federal agency must meet FedRAMP certification requirements. The latest update to the FedRAMP guidelines includes a presumption of authorization. The Act states that agencies must presume that existing FedRAMP authorizations are adequate for use. They should not require added security controls, eliminating the need for multiple certification processes.

This change allows providers to offer cloud services and products to different agencies without additional testing. Before the 2023 change, providers had to adhere to multiple security frameworks as information was not shared among agencies. This practice made it difficult for providers to offer services and products across the federal landscape and prevented agencies from quickly onboarding a potential provider.

Working with a knowledgeable partner can ease the authorization process. Trava's team of security professionals can guide organizations through the process and help build a robust cybersecurity environment to reduce possible disruptions. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help.