Evaluating FedRAMP Compliance For Cloud Services Providers

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Evaluating FedRAMP Compliance For Cloud Services Providers

Mar 30, 2020
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The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) comprises a set of standardized guidelines for monitoring, authorizing, and undertaking security assessments on cloud service providers (CSPs). The objective of the guidelines is to ensure that providers of cloud services meet the necessary cloud security standards. FedRAMP requires all CSPs to get accessed by third-party organizations to ensure that they meet cloud security guidelines that apply to them.

FedRAMP is intended for federal agencies and their processes and criteria for monitoring and assessing cloud services/products. Nonetheless, it’s also an excellent security model that any organization can adopt to minimize security risks within their cloud environment. Here’s how you can evaluate FedRAMP compliance for your CSPs.

Cloud Risk Assessment

You should categorize the data that you intend to store on the cloud according to its sensitivity. Generally, it’s hard to protect and control data stored on the cloud. Therefore, you should think about the possible consequences of the exposure or manipulation of your data, and how that affects its availability, confidentiality, and integrity. It would also be best to conduct a security assessment to establish whether working with a CSP is riskier than hosting your data on-premise.

Ensure that CSPs who are under consideration document the security controls that they have in place. They should also have stringent policies regarding user behavior, with emphasis on data access and use. Similarly, CSPs need to have a disaster recovery plan, which addresses how they can manage disruptions and recover system services.

While undertaking security assessments on CSPs that are under consideration, it would help if you inquire whether they have contracted accredited third-party auditors to test the security of their cloud environment. Such audits give you a clear picture of how secure a CSP’s cloud environment is, as well as strategies that have been implemented to ensure FedRAMP compliance.

Implementation of Security Policies

To determine the FedRAMP compliance status of your CSPs, you should create a cloud security policy that defines risks and controls associated with the services that you seek from them. The policy should highlight the data, applications, and services that are secure enough for cloud migration. Before engaging CSPs, work with cloud security experts and legal counsel to ensure that the service providers’ internal controls meet your organization’s needs.

Continuous Assessment And Evaluation

Cloud service providers can only become FedRAMP-compliant if they implement security controls that remain effective for a considerable period. In this regard, ensure that you undertake continuous monitoring of your CSPs to ensure that all the necessary security control implementations are in place.

In case you change the control process, make sure that there’s a process for tracking changes that could affect the ability of the CSPs to meet your security requirements. This could include calling for changes in your cloud providers’ management.

Ongoing evaluation and evaluation also entails keeping track of new vulnerabilities or risks that could hamper your cloud environment. An incident response plan should be in place to mitigate such situations before they cripple your operations.

Review A CSP’s Data Backup Strategy

For a cloud service provider to attain FedRAMP compliance, it must have adequate measures for backing up cloud data. In case of a breach, your organization’s continuity largely depends on the data backup strategy that you and your CSP have in place.

A data backup plan should be part of your disaster recovery plan, and ought to get tested periodically to gauge its effectiveness. Before engaging a cloud service provider, ensure that it has a well-defined data backup strategy in place. This guarantees business continuity in case of a disaster.

Authentication

FedRAMP compliance requires organizations to implement robust authentication protocols. CSPs should implement authentication methods that facilitate the mutual verification of identities between them and your organization. These protocols should be based on the confidential sharing of information that completes authentication tasks. Ultimately, you’ll be able to protect your data from DDoS, man-in-the-middle (MitM), and relay attacks.

Other cloud security methods that should be in place include strong passwords, multi factor authentication, smart cards, and strong passwords. By implementing them, you’ll be protecting your cloud environment against brute-force attacks. As you implement these authentication methods, ensure that your preferred CSPs also implement similar cloud security measures.

Legal Implications

CSPs ought to comply with internationally-recognized data privacy and security laws. This means that they must disclose all breaches that they encounter to relevant government agencies. Since FedRAMP’s legal guidelines always change, you should consult your legal department before engaging CSPs. This way, you’ll stay apprised with the latest regulations besides ensuring that your service providers are also up to speed.

You should be thorough when evaluating CSPs. Working with cloud service providers who are FedRAMP-compliant goes a long way in securing your data and the cloud environment in general. Likewise, it enables your organization to do business with government agencies. The aforementioned insights can give you a head-start on your journey to cloud security.

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