FedRAMP assessment – Tips for a smooth and successful experience

FedRAMP assessment – Tips for a smooth and successful experience

With careful planning and preparation, the FedRAMP assessment process can go much more smoothly. FedRAMP offers three different packages – FedRAMP Tailored, FedRAMP Low, and FedRAMP Moderate. Tailored has the lowest security requirements and is suitable for cloud services handling low-risk data. Low has more stringent requirements for sensitive but unclassified data. Moderate has the highest security controls and is required for cloud services handling more sensitive government data.

Assemble a strong team 

Having the right team in place is key to FedRAMP’s success. Include individuals with experience in security, risk management, cloud architecture, operations, and compliance. Make sure to have senior management support and buy-in as well. Consider supplementing your team with outside consultants experienced with certifications. Thorough documentation is required for FedRAMP assessment. Keep detailed records of your network architecture, data flows, operating policies, disaster recovery plans, and security controls, as well as your interfaces and interface architecture. Organize documentation so it is easily shared with assessors.

Complete required FedRAMP templates

An important part of the documentation process is filling out the required FedRAMP templates and worksheets. It includes the System Security Plan (SSP), which describes your system’s security posture. Other key templates cover your incident response plan, contingency plan, and security assessment plan. Take time to complete templates accurately and comprehensively. Before the official assessment, perform readiness reviews and “mock assessments.” Identify any gaps in your policies, procedures, system security controls, and documentation. Conduct vulnerability scans and penetration testing to uncover technical weaknesses. Doing your readiness assessments allows you to remediate issues before the FedRAMP assessment.

Prioritize security control implementation

When implementing FedRAMP security controls, focus first on the ones deemed high priority by FedRAMP. These include access control, awareness training, audit and accountability, security assessment, and system maintenance. It provides guidance on which controls are mandatory and which are tailored based on your system’s risk profile. Take advantage of automation to improve efficiency in implementing FedRAMP security controls and assessing system risks. Tools automate vulnerability scanning, configuration monitoring, audit log reviews, and documentation. Automated dashboards provide visibility into control status and gaps.

Maintain clear communication with assessors

Respond promptly to all requests from your FedRAMP assessors and maintain open communication channels. If any issues arise with scheduled interviews or providing documentation, inform your assessors immediately. Quickly answer any questions or clarify any points of confusion. Clear communication minimizes delays and helps the assessment stay on track. While FedRAMP offers options for “fast tracks” and prioritized assessments, first-time fedramp certifications still require careful planning and time management. Build out your timeline and task lists to ensure all team members understand expectations and deadlines. Plan for the possibility of delays and be ready to adjust if needed.

Leverage FedRAMP accelerated

For CSPs using authorized infrastructure services, FedRAMP Accelerated allows the reuse of existing attestations to streamline the process. Talk to your accredited 3PAO to determine which FedRAMP requirements you meet through reuse. FedRAMP requires ongoing monitoring and periodic reassessment even after initial certification. Begin implementing continuous monitoring capabilities early in the process. Define ongoing testing of controls, vulnerability scans, and compliance reporting to provide operational visibility after certification.

Bertha Bentley