The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, was designed to support the federal government’s “cloud-first” initiative by making it easier for federal agencies to contract with vendors that provide SaaS solutions and other cloud services. Unlike FISMA, which requires service providers to seek an Authority to Operate (ATO) from each individual agency they want to do business with, a FedRAMP ATO qualifies a provider to work with any federal agency.

Cloud service providers aren’t required to comply with FedRAMP unless they work with the U.S. federal government. However, FedRAMP certification is a sound investment for all SaaS and cloud services providers, even if they are not currently federal contractors.

FedRAMP will make your company stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace and reduce your company’s risk exposure

Cloud services and SaaS solutions have exploded in popularity. Everyone is racing to get their piece of the cloud market, and it can be challenging for your solution to stand out, especially if you run a small or mid-sized company. At the same time, consumer anger over data breaches has reached a boiling point, and enterprises are highly concerned about cyber risks, especially risks posed by third-party cloud services and SaaS providers.

Private-sector companies view FedRAMP as a gold standard of data security because they know how companies must meet exacting requirements to obtain it. The FedRAMP certification process will uncover your risks and vulnerabilities, providing a solid foundation for risk assessment, documentation review, and consistent use of internal security protocols that will benefit both your company and your customers.

Completing the FedRAMP certification process will make complying with other standards easier

FedRAMP controls are based on NIST 800–53, which is the basis for other common security regulations and industry standards that your company may have to comply with, including HIPAA, DFARS, PCI DSS, COBIT, ISO 27001, and CJIS.

FedRAMP certification will make it easier for you to sell services to federal contractors

Depending on the services provided, companies that are subcontractors to federal contractors don’t necessarily need to be FedRAMP compliant, but a FedRAMP certification will make your business stand out in this type of scenario as well, especially in this threat environment. The military and other federal government agencies are under attack from nation-state cyber criminals, and in many cases, these hackers target federal contractors and subcontractors. Chinese hackers have already breached U.S. Navy contractors on multiple occasions.

You’ll also have the option of selling services directly to federal government agencies

Federal contracting is stable and lucrative. The U.S. government is the single largest buyer of goods and services in the world, and federal agencies are reliable, steady customers even during economic downturns, when private-sector firms cut back. It’s a particularly attractive market for SaaS developers and other cloud services providers because federal agencies are mandated to be “cloud-first.” A White House directive requires them to evaluate cloud options “before making any new investments.”

Cloud service providers that are FedRAMP certified are listed in the FedRAMP marketplace, so that federal agencies can easily find them when they are looking to buy services.

Enterprises cannot self-certify. FedRAMP certification must be performed by a certified third-party assessment organization (3PAO).

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.