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4 Benefits of Using a FedRAMP Authorized Cloud Service Provider (CSP)
Security breaches and cybersecurity attacks happen every day, making it imperative that organizations have the proper security controls in place. In addition to having your own security measures established and tested, you also need to ensure that every service provider you work with is up to your standards, especially a cloud service provider (CSP).
This is why the U.S. government enacted FedRAMP (The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) in 2011. Establishing this set of security standards addressed the measures needed to keep sensitive government data secure when working with cloud service providers. FedRAMP addresses the assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring processes these CSPs need to align with in order to be authorized to work with federal agencies.
Does your agency or business work with government data? Do you need to comply with FedRAMP regulations? If so, let’s take a closer look at two types of CSPs you can work with – FedRAMP Ready and FedRAMP Authorized. We’ll learn more about these two distinctions and the benefits of working with a FedRAMP compliant CSP.
FedRAMP Ready vs. FedRAMP Authorized
What’s the difference between a cloud service provider that’s FedRAMP Ready and one that is FedRAMP Authorized? Systems that are FedRAMP Ready may have all the necessary security measures in place to be FedRAMP compliant, but that have not received the seal of approval yet. They may still have to undergo an authorization process, which could reveal unforeseen vulnerabilities. In contrast, a FedRAMP Authorized CSP has already been authorized at least once and is ready to begin working under FedRAMP compliance measures.
Let’s take a closer look at both of these CSP distinctions and the specific process CSPs must go through to receive the FedRAMP Ready or FedRAMP Authorized classification:
- FedRAMP Ready organizations have been assessed by a Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) and submitted a Readiness Assessment Report, which has been approved. This report outlines the steps the CSP has taken to meet FedRAMP’s security requirements and details the specific security measures they have in place. Also, before a CSP can start the Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) process monitored by the Joint Authorization Board (JAB), they must first receive the FedRAMP Ready designation.
- FedRAMP Authorized CSPs have already completed the authorization processes. They have been FedRAMP Ready, submitted their Readiness Assessment Report, and been approved to work with federal agencies. If you’re talking to a CSP who has begun the authorization process but has not yet received authorization, they don't fall into this category.
Benefits of FedRAMP Authorized CSPs
So, what are the benefits of partnering with a FedRAMP Authorized CSP, compared to a FedRAMP Ready one or a CSP with no designation at all? Here are a few benefits you can expect when you choose a CSP that has been FedRAMP authorized.
1. Mitigates Risk
First of all, working with a FedRAMP Authorized CSP helps to mitigate the risk of a data breach. You can maintain compliance with government standards, and reduce the risk of your sensitive data falling into the wrong hands. You can trust that they have all the appropriate measures in place to effectively protect your data. This also helps you to avoid the risk of noncompliance consequences, like steep fines, loss of business, or even prison time in the most extreme cases.
Thanks to the FedRAMP Authorization process, you can count on these organizations to have effective security measures. You can also avoid the time-intensive and costly due diligence process yourself. Since all the necessary due diligence was completed when the CSP went through the FedRAMP Authorization process, you can feel confident about their security controls, without checking every single one yourself.
3. Unparalleled Data Security
FedRAMP compliance is essential for many organizations, and as such, you have to ensure that all cloud service providers you work with are up to these standards. Sensitive data can easily fall into the wrong hands when you don’t have secure methods of protecting it. Data security is of particular concern for federal agencies and contractors since government data is an attractive target for hackers. However, when you work with a FedRAMP Authorized CSP, you can trust them with your data.
4. Always Updated to Standards
When a cloud service provider receives their FedRAMP Authorization at the Moderate level, they are required to adopt a minimum of 326 controls that have been established based on best practices and industry standards. And, having these controls in place at the time of the authorization process is not enough. FedRAMP Authorized CSPs must maintain compliant with ongoing security monitoring and assessment. Compliance is an ongoing process, and working with an authorized CSPs means you don’t have to work about data security measures being outdated or deteriorating.
5. Third-Party Verified
Your organization may not have the time or resources to verify that a cloud service provider has met all 326 of the FedRAMP security controls. In fact, it’s probably best to leave this type of verification to the experts. With third-party verification, another person has conducted this assessment, and you can expect that they have been thorough. You can also trust that they were an independent assessor, so no key vulnerabilities were ignored due to bias.
Ultimately, if your organization works with sensitive data, it’s in your own best interest to work with a FedRAMP Authorized cloud service provider. Otherwise, you could be putting your data – and your organization – at risk. Working with a CSP that’s FedRAMP Authorized means you can trust that your sensitive data is protected based on stringent government standards.
Before you partner with your next cloud service provider, be sure to ask about their FedRAMP status. With the right CSP handling your data, you’ll maintain alignment with FedRAMP standards and avoid the serious consequences of a data breach.
Learn more about meeting government data security standards. Download this free guide on ITAR compliance now.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.