One of the main cybersecurity strategies used by the government is the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP was developed by experts from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, and several other agencies. It's a three-step certification program that ensures security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring of any cloud-based products and services.
But you shouldn't consider FedRAMP a solution that's exclusive to the government. A cybersecurity breach can be equally devastating to private sector organizations. Take the recent HBO hack, where hackers stole seven times more data than during the infamous Sony hack of 2014. HBO's breach has sparked concerns about financial documents, employees' personal information and company emails. A massive effort to find and account for the damage is now underway, and will likely take months (and many hundreds of thousands of dollars).
Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are required to be FedRAMP certified in order to work with the government. But even if your company doesn't work with the government, FedRAMP certification is still worth pursuing. Here's why.
FedRAMP is a scalable framework. The agencies that designed FedRAMP purport to have a "do once, use many times" framework. This means that it was designed with scalability in mind. As your cloud services grow and your IT changes, FedRAMP is a mechanism that will keep your cyber safety net in place. As a private enterprise, you tend to invest in IT upgrades on a one-off basis. When your technology grows outdated or obsolete, it requires research, expertise, time and more money to stay current. With FedRAMP, you're being held to account on an ongoing basis, and your security systems are being sporadically evaluated.
You'll have better security. If you're managing a company or a company division, chances are you don't know everything about cybersecurity. The FedRAMP analysts are immersed in security day-in, day-out. They're aware of ongoing challenges, current events and new developments within the landscape. Think of FedRAMP certification as outsourcing your IT security to a very knowledgeable team of technologists. According to various federal reports, from 2006 to 2014 there was a 1,121% increase in security incidents. The average total cost of a data breach for the federal government is $6.5 million. While that will vary in the private sector, rest assured that you don't want to take the chance of facing a surprise cost that's even in the same range.
It's good for your bottom line. Having better security leaves you less vulnerable to attacks that cost money and resources to remedy. In addition, risk management approaches can be redundant, with different systems and departments requiring different security standards. If your accounting department uses different storage systems than your HR department, for example, you could be using inefficient processes to ensure continuing security. FedRAMP is able to zoom out and take a macro, standardized approach that saves you money and testing expenses.
It benefits your customers. FedRAMP certification offers you bragging rights with your customers. For CSPs and any enterprise integrating cloud-based products, you can ensure your customers that their data is well-protected and constantly being evaluated.
Competitiveness in cloud-first initiatives. As more sectors come fully online, you can be sure that more contracts, work proposals and client projects will integrate with the cloud. By staying up-to-date with FedRAMP certification, you gain an edge on your competition. You'll have the ability to compete for contracts in cloud-based initiatives because your security systems will be compliant with the latest infrastructure demands. You can have the peace of mind of knowing that you won't be missing valuable opportunities because of outdated technology practices.
Whether you're competing for the government's business or not, there's plenty of upside to becoming FedRAMP certified. Secure data is one of the best business practices you can pursue.
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