The Ultimate FedRAMP Requirements Checklist

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Jul 10, 2024

FedRAMP Requirements Checklist: Your Complete Compliance Roadmap

For those thinking a FedRAMP certification is easy, think again. It isn’t something security teams can handle alone. Moreover, it has a telling impact on a lot of functions, so the overarching scope shouldn’t be underestimated.

The FedRAMP framework is an exercise that engages your entire organization. Despite the common misconception, it isn’t limited to developers, IT staff, and others. For instance, your HR needs to train new hires, service teams educate customers, and salespeople answer questions about security assessment, all of which are requirements under Fedramp.

So, it can be particularly useful to know where to start and have a checklist of items that can help you implement it in its entirety. 

And that’s why we’ve created this FedRAMP checklist to help you have everything in place before attempting certification. Let’s dive in.

What are the requirements of FedRAMP?

The main requirements of FedRamp are to be assessed by third-party assessment organizations and to fix any issues found during the assessment. This is because the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) establishes requirements for cloud service providers (CSPs) seeking authorization to provide services to federal agencies, which we will discover in the section below.

Why is FedRAMP important?

FedRAMP is important because it helps federal agencies to use modern cloud technologies openly. Basically, if an agency is FedRAMP ready, it means that the cloud service is authorized to go ahead without expecting severe risks that may happen due to non-compliance.

Here are some reasons why it’s important:

  • FedRAMP makes it easier for federal agencies to handle the risks of using cloud services by setting up shared security rules
  • It makes the process of checking and approving cloud services quicker and simpler for federal agencies, saving them time and effort
  • FedRAMP ensures that different federal agencies can work together smoothly by setting up the same security standards for cloud services
  • FedRAMP makes people trust government computer systems more by making cloud service providers stick to high-security standards

Breeze through your FedRAMP audit with Sprinto

FedRAMP requirements checklist

A FedRAMP requirements checklist helps you establish and oversee a standard set of processes to guarantee consistent and reliable cloud security across government operations. It helps prepare for a FedRAMP authorization faster by emphasizing areas of focus and implementation.

Let’s see the checklist requirements one-by-one:

1. Understand how your product maps to FedRAMP

First, it’s important to grasp how your product fits into the FedRAMP framework. This means understanding how its features and functions align with the security capabilities and standards FedRAMP sets.

Next, conduct a gap analysis. This involves examining your current setup in detail to see how well it matches up with the specific security requirements outlined by FedRAMP. Doing this lets you identify areas where your current practices may fall short or need improvement to meet compliance with FedRAMP requirements.

Learn how to analyze your system’s gap with Sprinto

2. Implement the missing controls

Now, to strengthen your security posture and be FedRAMP compliant, take note of any missing security controls, policies, or safeguards you’ve found during the gap analysis.

With this insight, create a detailed plan outlining the steps needed to fill these compliance gaps. Then, systematically implement each missing element, using your gap analysis as a guide. 

3. Ensure everyone is on board

Start by getting buy-in and commitment from all levels of your company. For example, executive leadership plays a great role here. This is because they must understand the importance of pursuing a FedRAMP Authorization and are willing to provide the necessary support and resources.

For example. FedRAMP compliance costs vary based on organization size and complexity, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. That’s why getting buy-in from the organization is paramount.

Additional steps to get everyone on board is:

  • Ensure your team includes members familiar with various IT audits and compliance standards. Having this expertise will streamline the process
  • Involve technical teams such as system administrators, developers, and architects early on to ensure that federal security requirements are met effectively

4. Determine if you need support

Next, think about how you want to segment your team’s bandwidth and if you have enough in-house expertise to tackle FedRAMP for the next few months. If not, consider hiring a consulting firm to help with the workload.

Instead of just a consulting firm, consider using a FedRAMP software or compliance platform like Sprinto. With Sprinto, you can automatically scan and secure your cloud infrastructure, a crucial step for obtaining FedRAMP authorization.

Moreover, with Sprinto you get to:

  • Quickly start with editable, auditor-approved security and risk policies
  • Speed up sales by sharing a live snapshot of your security and compliance status
  • Automate gathering evidence and creating reports
  • Develop, score, and oversee your risk register

Continuous FedRAMP compliance made simple

5. Determine which security category you fall into

Figure out which security categorization your organization falls into. Now that you’ve chosen a compliance expert to guide you in assessing whether your data requires a low, moderate, or high categorization.

Think about opting for a higher level for marketing purposes, but be aware of the cost, schedule, and complexity involved.

  • Low Impact: Low Impact is the perfect option for non-sensitive data that’s general enough to share with the public. Despite the minimal effect on availability, integrity, and confidentiality, such scenarios could even be devastating.
  • Moderate Impact: This level is akin to a database full of sensitive personal information such as passkeys and bank details. Approximately 80% of CSP applicants choose this degree. Information leaks could have a major negative impact.
  • High Impact: Designated for critical systems like Law Enforcement, Finance, and Health Systems where a compromise in any of those systems would cause either a severe or catastrophic disruption of the system’s operations. This category contains a lot of very sensitive data.

6. Describe your cloud’s internal connections

Explain how your cloud system connects internally and externally—the policy statement on your system’s authorization should define the connection points between external systems and your cloud.

It covers the consumption of federal information and metadata transferred into the system.

Such demarcation is used to show the limit of control that the CSP has over the system. This could include other components or services used from outside sources or kept by the customer.

7. Implement an improvement program

A compliance program should be considered a long-term operation rather than a one-off project. Such a step marks a major milestone, but it just reflects the current situation concerning the risk level of the system.

Security begins when the infrastructure is being built and ends when the system is decommissioned. It requires frequent, if not continuous, monitoring and updates to control or reduce the risk level.

Focusing on compliance periodically can lead to rushed control tests, patching tasks, and scrambling for evidence, leaving you vulnerable to surprises. Sprinto provides a compliance automation toolkit, ensuring continuous monitoring, anomaly detection, remediation, and rapid, accurate audit evidence collection.

Sprinto streamlines this process by automatically mapping and monitoring controls against standards like FedRAMP and NIST CSF. It tests compliance, gathers evidence, and initiates remediation workflows non-stop every day of the year.

8. Consider your approach to authorization

If you have several products, decide whether it’s best to go for authorizations one by one or all together. If you started the process, you probably aim for a GSA ATO. Otherwise, you’re looking at an Agency ATO. Each approach has its own costs and marketing advantages, so seeking advice from a 3PAO and consulting firm is wise.

Also, if you already have a SOC 2 or ISO-27001-certified environment, it might be smart to maintain a separate FedRAMP environment. This is because NIST 800-53 mandates strict and specific controls that may differ from those in SOC 2 or ISO-27001.

9. Engage with a 3PAO

You’ll need a 3PAO to conduct the necessary testing. Engaging with them early is beneficial as their input can be valuable.

FedRAMP is a sequential procedure entailing you, the 3PAO, and the GSA/Agency in harmony. This incorporates stage-by-stage documentation creation, submission, review, feedback, and amendments. Unfortunately, it’s like a waltz but at a faster tempo, not reggae music.

Therefore, building the bond between your consulting firm and the assigned 3PAO will allow you to modify and enhance the Test Plan delivered by the 3PAO. The submitted plan undergoes evaluation and is presented to the GSA/Agency with the goal of achieving the envisioned outcome.

10. Continue maintaining your FedRAMP status

To keep your FedRAMP status, you will need to operate in accordance with the additional security controls and requirements prescribed in your security authorization documentation.

This means regular examinations, annual assessments, and improvements of cloud services to ensure that they comply with the FedRAMP standards as they remain in effect. Regular audits, vulnerability scans, and updates are a big factor in keeping your system secure and compliant.

Challenges with the FedRAMP requirements checklist

Organizations face plenty of challenges when using the FedRAMP Requirements Checklist. For example, you must implement many processes and go through 800+ documentation pages.

Here are some challenges you need to be aware of:

Resource constraints

Some projects face challenges like tight budgets, limited staff, or lack of technical expertise, just to name a few. This often leads to an inability to follow FedRAMP compliance.

It’s tough to juggle compliance alongside other pressing organizational needs, especially for smaller or resource-strapped entities. For example, a 3PAO assessment can cost around $500,000, adding to the financial strain.

Managing risks

A risk management plan that can handle threats that might affect you through the use of cloud services, such as data breaches and cyber-attacks, is what you need. That implies identifying, making a risk assessment, and remediating risks at the level of the FedRAMP framework.

It can be tough, especially for organizations with complex cloud setups. For instance, it’s hard to foresee every possible risk, and doing so can be expensive. Moreover, risk management isn’t cheap either.

Technical Complexity

Since the technical controls employed as per FedRAMP compliance requirements, like encryption, access controls, and vulnerability management, require specialized knowledge and resources, their implementation and maintenance may be quite demanding.

Get FedRAMP-ready with Sprinto

The FedRAMP compliance checklist is more than just a list of tasks. Rather, it is a methodical plan for your teams to follow to streamline and accelerate FedRAMP compliance. It’s part of a broader strategy for secure software development and federal government compliance.

With Sprinto’s automated compliance platform, you can sail through FedRAMP without exhaustive manhours and effort. It offers accurate documentation, continuous monitoring, and instant alerts—all in one convenient place.

FAQs

How does FedRAMP contribute to improved security for digital services?

The risk and mitigation process prescribed by FedRAMP ensures that digital services are secured and that the same standardized approach for government agencies’ cloud computing products and services.

What is the purpose of the FedRAMP?

The purpose of FedRAMP is to create a scenario in which government agencies use Cloud technologies while simultaneously focusing on the security and protection of federal data. It strives to accelerate the acceptance and implementation of cloud technologies with an inbuilt security feature into governmental datasets.

What is the FedRAMP process?

The FedRAMP program is a government-wide solution to ensure agencies move towards cloud-based services with proper data security in place. It provides a precise way of evaluating the security levels, giving authorization, and continuously monitoring the cloud products and services.

How does the FedRAMP requirements checklist assist in compliance management?

A good FedRAMP Requirements Checklist helps with compliance by providing a structured guide so that you take all necessary steps. Not only that, but it organizes the complex requirements into a manageable list, making it easier to understand and follow. 

Meeba Gracy

Meeba Gracy

Meeba, an ISC2-certified cybersecurity specialist, passionately decodes and delivers impactful content on compliance and complex digital security matters. Adept at transforming intricate concepts into accessible insights, she’s committed to enlightening readers. Off the clock, she can be found with her nose in the latest thriller novel or exploring new haunts in the city.

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