The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a United States government-wide program that standardizes security requirements for the authorization and ongoing cybersecurity of cloud services in accordance with the FedRAMP Authorization Act, FISMA, and OMB Circular A-130. In short, Federal Agencies are required to procure FedRAMP-authorized cloud services, and cloud service providers are required to be FedRAMP authorized in order to sell to federal agencies and handle their data. FedRAMP.gov has more information about the program including the authorization process, the marketplace, and other helpful resources.
FedRAMP authorization has three levels (low, moderate, and high) based upon the sensitivity of the data that is stored, processed, or transmitted in the cloud service. These levels have varying degrees of controls (security requirements) that must be implemented. The controls are selected from NIST 800-53.
There are two possible authorization paths that vary slightly; however, the common process includes:
An assessment (security audit) of a cloud service against FedRAMP requirements that results an acceptable level of residual risk (as deemed by a sponsoring Agency and the FedRAMP Program Management Office) results in an Authorization to Operate (ATO). The results of this assessment and the ATO can subsequently be relied upon and reused by other Agencies/customers who want or need the FedRAMP-authorized cloud service, rather than having to repeat an assessment and authorization process for each customer.
GitLab is pursuing FedRAMP Moderate authorization for a new government community cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. A government community cloud is intended for use by U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial customers, in addition to federally funded research centers (FFRDCs), contractors or service providers working on behalf of the government, and lab entities.
FedRAMP is a top cross-functional initiative at GitLab and has a working group that convenes at least monthly. The Security Compliance (Dedicated Markets) team is responsible for translating and clarifying the FedRAMP requirements for the organization, providing advice and consultation, and ultimately achieving and maintaining compliance.
Unfortunately, GitLab cannot publicly share specific timelines or progress with key milestones at this time. Internal team members can learn more here.
FedRAMP Authorization is very challenging and requires prescriptive security controls to be implemented at the organizational, system, and process levels. Some of the several hundred requirements include:
FedRAMP has similarities with other security compliance "certifications" in that it requires implementation of a broad set of requirements across multiple security domains and requires an independent auditor to render an opinion on the design and operating effectiveness of the controls. However, the difference with FedRAMP is the prescriptiveness of the requirements, the documentation that must be maintained, and the role that the 3rd Party Assessment Organization (3PAO/auditor) and the FedRAMP Program Management Office plays.
Let's look at some examples: TO BE DEVELOPED
SaaS offerings can inherit (partially or fully) some of the required controls from a FedRAMP authorized IaaS provider. These are typically limited to physical and environmental controls, physical media protection, and local maintenance controls. It is possible to transfer additional responsibility for control implementation by leveraging other managed services from the IaaS providers (such as database-as-a-service, serverless compute, managed security services, etc.) however even these will only partially fulfill the full set of requirements. The vast majority of the requirements must still be implemented by the SaaS provider and cannot be inherited.
Please reach out to
@dedicated_compliance in the
# sec-assurance or
# wg_fedramp channels on Slack for questions about the requirements or the process. For other questions, including product-specific matters, reach out to the
# wg_fedramp channel or contact a member of the US Public Sector Services product group.