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Does My European Business Need a FedRAMP Assessment?

A-LIGN Businesspeople

You may have noticed the United States’ Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is now gaining traction in other parts of the world. It begs the question, “Does my business need a FedRAMP assessment?”

FedRAMP was originally launched in 2011 as a way for the U.S. government to manage security risks as they adopt products and services that store, process, and transmit federal information in the cloud. Although FedRAMP is usually leveraged as a way for cloud service providers (CSPs) to meet Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) requirements, a growing number of organizations are using this risk-based standard to not only enhance their security, but to also stand out from the competition and win new business.

Let’s take a look at why a European business would want to pursue FedRAMP authorization and the many benefits to their organisation.

Why Would a European Business Pursue FedRAMP Authorization?

There’s one main factor that most often motivates European businesses to pursue FedRAMP Authorization to Operate (ATO) status: They would like to sell a cloud service offering (CSO) to the U.S. government.

FedRAMP was specifically designed to ensure that CSPs with a software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) CSO have adequate information security to do business with a U.S. federal agency. The specific requirements that a CSO must fulfil are dictated by FISMA and its subsequent memorandums.

In other words: If your business is a CSP that would like to sell a cloud-based solution to the U.S. government, you must obtain FedRAMP. Bonus- FedRAMP’s “do once, use many approach” means that when you achieve FedRAMP ATO status, your security package can be reused by any federal agency. You will also be listed in the FedRAMP Marketplace, which is often the first place federal agencies look when sourcing a new CSO.

What Are the Benefits of FedRAMP for European Businesses?

Before we dive into the benefits, it’s worth noting that FedRAMP is not a quick and easy process that your business can sail through without much effort. It is a serious undertaking that requires patience as you work to fill your existing security gaps.

That being said, achieving FedRAMP ATO status comes with several advantages that make the effort required more than worth it. Here are a few to consider:

  • The ability to re-use FedRAMP across multiple U.S. government agencies
  • More robust security and risk mitigation for your CSO
  • Enhanced real-time security visibility
  • Improved trust among customers, prospects, and partners
  • A marketing proof point that can be used in the private sector

Additionally, the new FedRAMP control baselines using NIST 800-53 Rev 5v uses an evolving, threat-based approach that allows CSPs to keep their information security efforts up to date against new and emerging threats.

How Can My European Business Get Started with FedRAMP?

There are two options to choose from when looking to authorize a CSO through FedRAMP: a Joint Authorization Board (JAB) provisional authorization (P-ATO) or an ATO issued by an individual U.S. government agency. For more guidance on selecting your authorization strategy, I highly recommend reading through the FedRAMP CSP Authorization Playbook.

Below are the four high-level steps involved in the FedRAMP authorization process:

1. Document

Your business must categorize the CSO being considered for FedRAMP in accordance with NIST FIPS-199. The category (Low, Moderate, or High impact) that applies to your CSO depends on how much harm would be caused by a security breach. See our guide Understanding Federal Compliance for more details about these impact levels.

2. Assess

A federally-accredited third-party assessment organization (3PAO) conducts a security assessment to determine if your CSO meets the baseline controls required for FedRAMP. If they do meet the baseline controls, the 3PAO will submit an assessment package attesting to your compliance.

3. Authorize

The government agency will review the security package and either approve to organization as FedRAMP authorized or request additional testing. A final review is then conducted by the government agency and FedRAMP Program Management Office (PMO) to decide if they will accept the risk associated with the use of the CSO. If approved and accepted, Authorizing Officials will issue an ATO letter.

*For the P-ATO route, this review process will also include the FedRAMP JAB.

4. Continuously Monitor

After authorization is granted, you must provide monthly deliverables to the agency (or agencies) using your CSO to demonstrate that your cloud security controls are continuing to operate effectively. You must also have a 3PAO complete an annual security assessment to ensure the system’s risk posture remains acceptable.

Work with a Top FedRAMP Assessor

While FedRAMP was created to assist the U.S. government to rapidly, rigorously, and consistently assess the security of cloud solutions, it also benefits CSPs. From earning more U.S. federal work to increasing trust among customers and prospects in the private sector, there are several reasons why your European business may want to pursue FedRAMP authorization.

Looking to firm up your plan for FedRAMP? As an accredited 3PAO that is one of the top five FedRAMP assessors in the world, A-LIGN is ready to perform your security assessment. In fact, we are currently a FedRAMP 3PAO for a growing number of European CSPs. If you have already chosen a 3PAO, but could use some guidance throughout the preparation process, our independent team of advisors can help you with control implementation, process documentation, and everything in between. Learn more about our comprehensive FedRAMP services.