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FISMA Compliance Requirements for File Sharing
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on January 30th, 2019

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FISMA Compliance Requirements for File Sharing

Government Compliance

In 2002, the United States government took steps to address a relatively new and growing concern – data security in the 21st century. The passage of The E-Government Act (Public Law 107-347) brought security into the internet age, and as a result, FISMA was created. FISMA, or Federal Information Security Management Act, was drafted in 2003 and later updated in 2014 to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.

If you’re subject to FISMA requirements, you may be wondering what steps you should take to comply with these regulations. Continue reading to learn more about FISMA compliance and the actions you can take to align with the standards.

What Is FISMA Compliance?

FISMA addresses the steps that federal agencies and contractors that work with federal agencies should take to protect data, while still maintaining cost-effective operations. Four goals outlined by FISMA require executive agencies within the federal government to:

  • Plan for security.

  • Ensure that appropriate officials are assigned security responsibility.

  • Periodically review the security controls in their systems.

  • Authorize system processing prior to operations and, periodically, thereafter.

FISMA guidelines are drafted by NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to offer agencies and contractor companies with a standardized set of requirements to protect secure data and maintain FISMA compliance. In fact, a lack of compliance can lead to a number of serious consequences, including fines, monetary penalties, and even congressional censure, not to mention loss of business and government contracts.

Compliance comes with a number of benefits, paramount of which is maintaining data security. You can prevent and address issues in a timely and cost-efficient manner, in addition to bolstering your reputation as a government contractor. 

Secure File Sharing for Government Contractors

Our FTP site enables you to securely send files and documents while remaining efficient and compliant.

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9 Steps to FISMA Compliance Risk Management

NIST outlines nine steps FISMA compliance steps to help you manage the risk of a data breach. These steps are part of the risk management framework. The goal of this framework is to enable your organization to build on essential security controls as needed.

  1. Categorize your information. Sorting information into various categories based on security impact ensures the protection of sensitive information is prioritized highly. Retroactive categorization of information can lead to errors, so it’s crucial that information is categorized based on potential impact of loss at the time it is acquired. However, if you adopt a secure file sharing or storage solution, you benefit from a blanket of protection instead of only certain files being secure.

  2. Select security controls. Security controls are the measures you take to protect data or the safeguards you put in place to ensure data is secure. Adopting the minimum baseline of security controls allows you to rapidly protect your data, saving other nonessential measures for later implementation.

  3. Conduct a risk assessment. Once a minimum baseline of protections is selected, you should conduct a risk assessment to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures you selected. Based on this assessment, you can adjust minimum controls keeping factors like location conditions or your specific agency requirements in mind.

  4. Document your controls. Drafting a system security plan creates internal guidelines for your security controls and documents the ones you currently have in place. You can also include security controls you are in the process of implementing and ones you plan to implement in the future.

  5. Implement your security controls. Your security controls should be implemented in both new systems and those that have been in use for a while. That means organization-wide adoption of these controls. Again, choosing a secure file sharing solution simplifies this process. Instead of mass implementation of individual controls, you can adopt a single solution that has all of the required controls already in use.

  6. Assess security control implementation. Once your controls have been implemented, you should verify that they have been implemented correctly. There are three aspects to this assessment process – verify correct implementation, ensure controls are functioning properly, and confirm that these controls are enabling you to meet security requirements.

  7. Evaluate risk to your organization agency. Are your organization’s operations, employees, or assets at risk of a data security incident? Evaluate the level of risk your organization is facing, and adopt additional controls to mitigate this risk if necessary.

  8. Authorize your information system for use. Once you’ve conducted a final data breach risk assessment and implemented required adjustments, you’re ready to use your information system. You’ve confirmed that all required security measures are in place, and the system is safe for use.

  9. Continually monitor controls. Although you may have established that your information system is safe for use, your work is not done. Your organization must continually monitor controls to ensure that they’re operating properly. You also must monitor for data breaches, and contain them as they occur. Finally, if any vulnerabilities are discovered, you should integrate new security controls into your systems.

If properly followed, your organization can easily maintain FISMA compliance. However, compliance isn’t a one-time event you can complete and forget. FISMA compliance requires an ongoing commitment to data security. In the same way that technology is constantly developing, threats to data are advancing, too. So, you should be vigilant if you want to stay compliant and protect your data into the future.

 

How a Secure File Sharing Solution Helps Maintain FISMA Compliance

One way to ensure FISMA compliance is to adopt a secure file sharing solution. As we mentioned above, using a secure solution helps mitigate some of the risks associated with storing and transferring sensitive data.

Here are a few ways a secure file sharing solution aids in your FISMA compliance efforts:

  • The file sharing host is the expert. Many organizations see the long list of data security requirements published by NIST, and struggle to determine which requirements apply to them or how to implement the ones that do. Luckily, when you use a top secure file sharing solution, many of the required compliance features are already built into your solution. You don’t have to worry about determining which requirements you should adopt and when.

  • This is a fast way to be compliant. When you adopt a file sharing solution that has compliance measures already built in, you’re compliant from the day you adopt it. Once you move your file storage and sharing processes from old options onto your new solution, you can trust that your host is keeping data protected.

  • This is the cost effective option. One goal of FISMA is to make data security cost effective. Implementing each new security control not only comes at a high monetary costs due to new hardware and software, it also comes at a high time investment for your IT team. When you adopt a cloud-based file sharing solution, the hard work is done for you. Adoption is simple and fast, and with a cloud solution, you don’t have to purchase any new equipment or license on-premise software.

The risks of losing valuable data and facing the consequences of FISMA noncompliance are too great to ignore. That’s why it’s crucial that you take steps today to ensure you comply with FISMA requirements both now and in the future. With an expert secure file sharing host in your corner, you’re sure to make rapid and successful strides toward FISMA compliance.

Learn more about the features FTP Today offers to help you comply with government regulations.

Secure File Sharing for Government Contractors

Our FTP site enables you to securely send files and documents while remaining efficient and compliant.

Explore 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.

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