Improving Your Cybersecurity Posture in One Year with FedRAMP

Published February 20, 2024
by Dave Stenger

For businesses seeking to work with State, Local, and Education (SLED), achieving StateRAMP authorization helps demonstrate your cybersecurity commitment. At the federal level, FedRAMP compliance is mandatory and essential for ensuring the security and integrity of federal government data. Through the standardization of security assessments and authorizations, the process for both government agencies and service providers is streamlined. Improving your cybersecurity posture in one year or less is possible with FedRAMP.

What is FedRAMP?

Established in 2011, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a government-wide program whose mission is to “promote the adoption of secure cloud services across the federal government by providing a standardized approach to security and risk assessment for cloud technologies and federal agencies.”

For service providers, FedRAMP represents an opportunity to reach a new tier of potential customers but requires an enhanced security posture to provide a level of service and security mandated in federal government contracts. 

What is the FedRAMP Process Timeline?

While it’s a streamlined solution, achieving FedRAMP compliance involves a comprehensive, rigorous process that can take approximately six months or up to one year. The time it takes for a provider to complete the FedRAMP process and be added to the FedRAMP Marketplace can vary significantly depending on several factors. 

Pivotal factors include which of the two paths to authorization a provider utilizes, the complexity of their services, and the number of resources and preparation already dedicated to fortifying their cybersecurity and security posture.

More complex systems may require additional time for security assessments and documentation. Organizations with a strong security posture through implementing robust security controls may move through the preparation and process more quickly.

Adequate preparation, including documentation and security controls, is crucial. Hiring dedicated FedRAMP consultants and advisors has become one popular option, and authorized third-party assessment organization (3PAO) advisors can provide valuable guidance on meeting various mandates. 

Providers must invest adequate time, budgetary commitments, and dedicated personnel in order to properly analyze gaps in existing security infrastructure and processes and then implement the necessary solutions.

The two options for obtaining FedRAMP authorization include:

  • Agency Sponsorship
    A federal government agency or a division of the Department of Defense must want to work with and be willing to sponsor a provider’s pursuit of a FedRAMP authority to operate (ATO).
  • The Joint Authorization Board (JAB)
    The primary governing body for FedRAMP selects approximately 12 cloud products per year to work toward a provisional authority to operate (P-ATO).

Securing an agency sponsor is a wildcard variable unique to each provider. However, depending on the scope and complexity of work required to reach FedRAMP requirements, planning and preparation efforts could take companies as little as one month or as long as a year without a sponsor. 

The use of 3PAOs for complex security assessments also introduces additional time considerations. The specific 3PAO performing initial assessments and drafting security reports must be approved by FedRAMP and accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). 

Assuming no major issues are uncovered that require significant time to solve and that thorough documentation is correct and complete, complete assessments and the full FedRAMP Security Assessment Report (SAR) can be completed in two to three months.

The JAB’s review and authorization phase will also typically take approximately two to three months. A full agency review and FedRAMP project management office (PMO) review often require revisions to the SAR and can take up to six months or longer. 

Reaching FedRAMP authorization is more of a checkpoint than a finish line. For as long as a provider is working with federal agencies, they must undergo continuous monitoring to maintain placement in the FedRAMP Marketplace. Requirements include undergoing an annual penetration test and other simulated evaluation exercises that can take up to three months or longer. 

Find Consultants, Assessors, and More within RAMPxchange

FedRAMP encourages the growth and evolution of private-sector cloud service developments and ensures there is sufficient security in place to match the public’s heightened risks and importance. 

The RAMPxchange marketplace is a destination for discovering trusted, vetted, and verified consultants, assessors, other security experts, and fellow service providers dedicated to prioritizing strong cybersecurity in all public-private partnerships. Talk to a RAMPxchange consultant today to join and learn more.