Overcoming common obstacles in FedRAMP certification and assessment

For companies pursuing the rigorous FedRAMP authorization process, the road to compliance is filled with challenges. From document gaps to assessment findings, organizations must be prepared to navigate obstacles. Learning strategies to overcome hurdles is key to achieving FedRAMP certification in an efficient timeline. Robust documentation is foundational to FedRAMP, including developing the critical System Security Plan (SSP) that details implemented controls. Falling behind on documentation derails timelines and creates scrambles later in the assessment process. Prioritizing documentation from the start, assembling technical writers early, and using templates help avoid backlogs. Automating control mapping also streamlines creating required documentation like the SSP.

Lack of tracking for security control implementation

Without traceability between documented controls and evidence of implementation, assessors cannot validate security policies translated to technical enforcement. Maintaining comprehensive implementation evidence and linking all controls to system components facilitates assessment processes and prevents delays. Rigorous tracking should start early when controls are first built into system design.

FedRAMP mandates robust access controls and authorization processes. Gaps like inadequate credential strength, logging failures, or lack of multi-factor authentication often arise. Remediating can require significant system updates and engineering work. Avoiding access control findings requires ensuring policies and capabilities meet FedRAMP prerequisites before assessment.

Weaknesses in configuration management

FedRAMP demands strong configuration management to secure systems at rest and in transit. Deficiencies in baseline configuration, patch management, or flaw remediation processes result in findings that slow authorization. Organizations can get ahead by validating hardened system configurations, automating patching and vulnerability scanning, and establishing robust change management controls. FedRAMP’s rigorous continuous monitoring requirements are often underestimated by organizations more focused on initial assessment. Lacking defined metrics, monitoring procedures, reporting processes, and tools jeopardizes authorization timelines. Developing continuous monitoring capabilities in parallel with assessment preparations ensures readiness.

Inability to quickly remediate assessment findings

High-risk areas like databases, network infrastructure, hypervisors, and encryption mechanisms warrant extra attention. Even minor deficiencies in these critical components generate many findings and delays. Ensuring security hardening, logging, and monitoring for high-risk elements early in system design stages pays dividends during FedRAMP testing. These assessments invariably produce findings that must be remediated before authorization is granted. Lacking remediation processes causes lengthy delays. Developing streamlined remediation workflows prepares organizations to rapidly respond. Automated remediation further accelerates resolution when findings occur.

Failing to align with assessor testing needs

Smoothly facilitating assessor validation requires aligning tasks like setting up test accounts, configuring access, and scheduling interviews. Disorganization and delays in assisting assessors stall testing. Preparing detailed test plans and on-boarding materials aligned to assessor requirements prevents obstacles during the assessment process itself. It requires coordination across security, compliance, engineering, and leadership. Silos between groups impede assessment timelines and control implementation. Early cross-team planning combined with regular integrated meetings, status reports, and collaborative tools fosters alignment.

Attempting to retrofit security into existing systems

Trying to shoehorn controls into legacy architectures is exponentially more difficult than embedding security from the initial design stages. Starting fedramp certifications compliance too late requires re-engineering at great cost. Integrating compliance into early development life cycles prevents many roadblocks down the line. Utilizing strategies like automation, early planning, cross-team collaboration, and “compliance by design” sets organizations up to circumvent obstacles. With diligence and preparation, companies steer past barriers toward FedRAMP certification.