Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

6/4/2019
02:00 PM
Daniel P. Kent
Daniel P. Kent
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Why FedRAMP Matters to Non-Federal Organizations

Commercial companies should explore how FedRAMP can help mitigate risk as they move to the cloud.

The word "compliance" is not a popular one for any technology provider. Whether an organization is in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, or government, navigating complex regulatory environments and processes can hinder technology advancement. While it's often considered a "necessary evil," compliance helps companies maintain high security and data management standards and mitigate security risk, which in the long run is good for everyone. We need to look for better ways to be compliant and still innovate.

Consider the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP is a "government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment authorization" for cloud service provider (CSP) solutions. FedRAMP ensures cloud offerings are secure enough to be used by federal agencies, including agencies handling sensitive information and data.

FedRAMP was introduced in 2011 to support the Cloud First policy (now the Cloud Smart policy), which aimed to accelerate the adoption of secure cloud solutions among federal agencies. Rather than allow agencies to continue using individual requirements, FedRAMP continues to streamline authorizations by creating unified standards based on the risk needs of agencies. The goal is to improve agencies' protection of information, streamline and reduce costs of security assessments, and better enable agencies to modernize operations with secure cloud solutions.

This movement to capitalize on the benefits of the cloud is not exclusive to federal agencies — far from it. FedRAMP was created to accelerate adoption within federal government, but non-federal organizations are starting to benefit as well, including critical infrastructure and commercial entities.

FedRAMP for Critical Infrastructure
Any non-federal organization working directly with the government will likely need to comply with the same FedRAMP requirements as agencies themselves. This includes universities and state agencies receiving federal grants, as well as defense contractors that support agency operations in cloud environments. Any program supported by federal funding for non-federal organization needs to adhere to FedRAMP guidelines, and so will the technology providers involved in that program.

Perhaps the biggest non-federal group of organizations looking at FedRAMP solutions today are those in critical infrastructure. Some organizations — for instance, a manufacturer providing components for a missile system — work directly with federal agencies and are required by law to use FedRAMP solutions. However, other organizations across banking, healthcare, insurance, and utility industries are being directed to FedRAMP, too, because these are highly regulated sectors. So, federal agencies are pushing companies in these industries to better ensure the security of citizens' personal information.

Like federal agencies themselves, critical infrastructure companies are feeling the pressure to modernize operations with the cloud while simultaneously being cautious because of security concerns. These organizations are weary, and rightfully so, of being tomorrow's data breach headline. FedRAMP authorized cloud solutions can ease concerns by delivering the same security as federal agencies and exploring the latest cloud solutions vendors have to offer.

Using FedRAMP to Guide Commercial Investment
Commercial businesses across industries understand the benefits that cloud solutions offer in terms of greater operational flexibility and reduced costs, but they don't face the requirements or direct government pressure to use FedRAMP-authorized products. In fact, not all FedRAMP-approved solutions are even available to commercial customers. This depends on how agreements are set up between the software-as-a-service provider and the federal agency that sponsored the authorization, according to FedRAMP guidelines. Of the roughly 17,000 cloud applications available, only around 300 are approved by FedRAMP, and only a limited selection of those will be available for commercial use.

So, why should commercial organizations pay attention to FedRAMP? The answer is trust and confidence.

By understanding the federal cloud marketplace, commercial organizations can identify cloud solutions that can benefit their adoption strategy and be assured those solutions meet the highest security standards. Not only do FedRAMP solutions undergo hundreds of security control checks, the program also includes continuous monitoring that requires providers to immediately flag any product issues to the sponsoring agency.  This security transparency further gives everyone — federal agencies, critical infrastructure, or other commercial companies — more confidence in both the cloud solution and the CSP providing it.

And while a FedRAMP solution may not be authorized for commercial use, many CSPs are leveraging the benefits of going through the validation process and incorporating those into their commercial solutions. In other words, many commercial products are becoming more secure as a result of CSPs investing in FedRAMP. Tracking the technology providers that have achieved FedRAMP authorization gives commercial companies a good sense of where to look for advanced, highly secure cloud solutions.

A "Universal FedRAMP" Future
The FedRAMP program today is a primary driver in the acceleration of cloud adoption for federal agencies. While the program is still evolving, it has undoubtedly delivered, providing organizations with trusted cloud solutions that federal agencies can be confident using.

As the program matures, there will be an opportunity to embrace a more consistent, "universal FedRAMP" experience which will guide secure cloud investments across non-government. For now, commercial companies should be proactive in exploring how FedRAMP can help mitigate risk on their journey to the cloud.

Related Content:

Daniel Kent is the Chief Technology Officer for the Cisco Systems Public Sector organization. His group assists government transformation by delivering technologies, services, and offerings into public sector vertical markets including DoD, education, government, and ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Florida Town Pays $600K to Ransomware Operators
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/20/2019
Pledges to Not Pay Ransomware Hit Reality
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  6/21/2019
AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/25/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10133
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The form to upload cohorts contained a redirect field, which was not restricted to internal URLs.
CVE-2019-10134
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The size of users' private file uploads via email were not correctly checked, so their quota allowance could be exceeded.
CVE-2019-10154
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before versions 3.7, 3.6.4. A web service fetching messages was not restricted to the current user's conversations.
CVE-2019-9039
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
The Couchbase Sync Gateway 2.1.2 in combination with a Couchbase Server is affected by a previously undisclosed N1QL-injection vulnerability in the REST API. An attacker with access to the public REST API can insert additional N1QL statements through the parameters ?startkey? and ?endkey? of the ?_a...
CVE-2018-20846
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
Out-of-bounds accesses in the functions pi_next_lrcp, pi_next_rlcp, pi_next_rpcl, pi_next_pcrl, pi_next_rpcl, and pi_next_cprl in openmj2/pi.c in OpenJPEG through 2.3.0 allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash).