Keeping cybersecurity threats under control is an ongoing task in an ever-evolving threat landscape. That's why government agencies have come together to create guidelines such as FedRAMP and StateRAMP. By bringing together the greatest experts in the cybersecurity field, those agencies can ensure that the guidelines they create stay up to date with any threat.
Quzara has helped many organizations become compliant with these two sets of cybersecurity frameworks. In our time working with clients, we've had a few ask what the differences between the two are. We'll answer that question in this post.
How Are StateRAMP and FedRAMP Different?
StateRAMP and FedRAMP are both cybersecurity frameworks that provide security and risk management processes to government agencies and the contractors who work for them. While there are some similarities, there are also some important differences between them.
- Scope - The biggest difference between the two frameworks is their scope. As the names imply, FedRAMP is a federal program and StateRAMP is a state-level program. Generally speaking, FedRAMP will apply to federal government agencies and StateRAMP to those of state and local governments.
- Governance - FedRAMP is a mandatory program for federal agencies that are managed by the General Services Administration (GSA). The requirements for FedRAMP are laid out in a comprehensive set of guidelines and standards. StateRAMP is a voluntary program and is managed by individual states. Each state has the ability to tailor the program to meet its specific needs, so the implementation can vary from state to state.
- Compliance - The stakes of a cybersecurity attack tend to be higher at the federal level. As such, the compliance requirements for FedRAMP are more strict than those of StateRAMP. FedRAMP is designed to provide high-level security assurance for the handling of classified documents, whereas StateRAMP is meant to provide a baseline level of security for the agencies it covers.
What Do StateRAMP and FedRAMP Have in Common?
Now that we've seen the differences between the two, let's look at a few things they have in common.
- Risk management approach - StateRAMP and FedRAMP both use a risk-based approach to cybersecurity. This means that they focus on performing a risk analysis to see which threats pose the greatest threats and prioritizing those concerns over threats of lesser risk.
- Authorization process - Both frameworks have an extensive authorization process that must be carried about before cloud services or products can be approved. The process includes a comprehensive security assessment, documentation of the security controls and processes, as well as ongoing maintenance of the security protocols.
- Collaboration and sharing - There are many federal and state agencies. Both frameworks recognize the error of having one agency experience a cybersecurity threat in a vacuum. To help all agencies learn from the mistakes and experiences of each other, a strong emphasis on sharing information between agencies is included in both.
- Flexibility - While FedRAMP is more strict than StateRAMP, and is governed by a single body rather than 50 individual bodies, each offers a degree of flexibility in implementation. This is an acknowledgment of the reality that a one-size-fits-all approach won't always work for every government agency.
What Are the Benefits of StateRAMP to State and Local Governments?
We said earlier that StateRAMP is a voluntary program, but the team at Quzara still recommends that all state and local governments follow it. Following StateRAMP guidelines provides those agencies with the following benefits:
- Improved cybersecurity - By providing a standardized set of best practices that are assembled and maintained by a team of cybersecurity experts, StateRAMP allows government agencies greater assurances that their cybersecurity methods are effective at protecting sensitive data.
- Reduced costs - A lot of work goes into developing a cybersecurity framework. Not only will adopting StateRAMP give state and local agencies access to the experts who developed it, but it will also save them the expense of hiring their own experts to create their own guidelines.
- Increased efficiency - One of the benefits of a standardized set of guidelines is that providers are able to easily adapt to them. By choosing providers of cloud-based services that are already StateRAMP compliant, agencies can save time searching for services that fit their needs.
- Better compliance - The StateRAMP guidelines are developed with regulatory requirements in mind. By following the guidelines set forth in the framework, agencies will also be taking many of the steps they'll need to be in compliance with those regulations.
Using StateRAMP in Conjunction with Audits
StateRAMP can be used in conjunction with audits to provide a more comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. StateRAMP focuses on cybersecurity for cloud-based solutions, but audits can identify and address vulnerabilities and risks across an agency's entire IT infrastructure.
Audits involve a comprehensive review of an organization's IT systems, policies, and procedures. The goal of an audit is to identify potential security risks and recommend remediation measures to minimize those risks. Using the two together ensures a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that covers all potential vectors for a cybersecurity attack.
The expanded scope of an audit will also capture more of the regulatory requirements than StateRAMP alone would. This further helps agencies stay in compliance with regulations and helps prevent contractors from making a mistake that could put their contract in jeopardy.
Secure Your Systems with Quzara
Quzara is a FedRAMP-accredited cybersecurity firm. We can help your organization achieve compliance with StateRAMP guidelines and provide comprehensive advisory that helps keep your data safe. To find out more, contact us today.
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