Azure Government Services Under The Scope Of FedRAMP High

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Mar, 21, 2022 01:03

Azure Government Services Under The Scope Of FedRAMP High

The term FedRAMP is the abbreviation of Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. This is a U.S based security organization that was established back in December 2011. The organization is aimed at implementing a standardized approach to the assessment, monitoring, and authorization procedures related to cloud-based products and services used by the Federal government. The guidelines and actions of the FedRAMP are at par with the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The urgency of establishing this organization was felt with the need of accelerating the adoption of cloud-based services by the federal government agencies. Cloud service providers or CSPs that intend to sell their products or services to federal institutions are necessarily required to depict their compliance to FedRAMP.

This process can be completed in the following ways:-

  • Achieving a Provisional Authorization to Operate(P-ATO) from the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board(JAB).
  • Receiving an Authorization to Operate or ATO from a federal organization.
  • Working independently towards developing a Cloud Service Provider Supplied Package which meets all the needs of the FedRAMP program.

But, the completion of the Authorization process through each of the above-mentioned ways requires an assessment by an independent third-party organization. This third-party organization needs to be accredited under the FedRAMP program. In addition to this, a tough technical review by the FedRAMP Program Management Office or PMO will be conducted at the end.

The FedRAMP high Authorization is representative of the highest level of compliance to the FedRAMP requirements. The FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board is the primary body that governs the authorization process and performs all the decision-making functions. This body is constituted of representatives of the Department of Defense or DOD, Department of Homeland Security or DHS, and General Service Administration.

After achieving the P-ATO from the Board, the Cloud services providers still need to get the ATO authorization from the government agency they would work in collaboration with. The authorization once given is consistently monitored for information security.

FedRAMP and Azure: An understanding

Azure Government

Azure and Azure governments both have been working in the market while maintaining FedRAMP High P-ATOs. These have been provided by the JAB along with 250 moderate and High ATOs that have been issued by federal agencies individually in the context of in-scope services. The FedRAMP High Authorization of the Azure public cloud platform meets the security needs of countless Government organizations that are Azure customers.

Additionally, Azure Government is designed to provide additional customer assurances by way of controls that limit the chances of access to systems that process federal data. Microsoft is highly focused on providing the best in the market customer assistance. This is depicted in its working with federal organizations as well. The cloud service provider has in place certain Azure Policy regulatory compliance that are built-in initiatives for Azure and the Azure Government. These compliance policies help in mapping the FedRAMP compliance domains and controls.

These initiatives can be categorized in the following manner:-

  • Azure – i) FedRAMP High Azure regulatory compliance built-in initiative and ii) FedRAMP Moderate Azure regulatory compliance built-in initiative.
  • Azure Government – i) FedRAMP High Azure Government regulatory compliance built-in initiative and ii)FedRAMP Moderate Azure Government regulatory compliance built-in initiative.

These above-mentioned policies are designed to help the user organizations in assessing compliance with control. But, this compliance in Azure Policy is simply the partial view of the complete compliance stature of this cloud service provider. The use of Azure policy can be made for enforcing the organizational standards of security and later assessing the compliance at scale. The compliance dashboard helps in giving the user company a complete view of the compliance standards through which the overall cloud environment can be evaluated.

Azure Government Services covered by FedRAMP:

The Azure Government currently consists of 116 services that are covered by the FedRAMP High Provisional Authorization to Operate or P-ATO. The organization additionally attempts to consistently provide services that are covered by the P-ATO. This attempt is made at par with the company’s continuous investments and its commitment to providing a completely secure and compliant cloud platform. To streamline the process of reviewing and getting the support of the federal customers, the company integrated the Dynamics 365 for Government FedRAMP package into the Azure Government package.

The consolidation for the existing Dynamics customers implies that the approval timeliness is now shorter and there is no need for examining the Azure Government package separately. The current Azure Government package is inclusive of the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings which comprehensively cover the full scope of cloud deployment models. The complete list of Azure Government Services that are covered by FedRAMP High Coverage can be found listed under the Azure Government audit scope documentation.

Also Read: All Azure Cloud Service Types

Recently, a range of 14 new Azure government services has been brought under the scope of FedRAMP High. Some of these services can be enumerated in the following manner:-

Azure IoT Security

This service allows the federal organization or customer to take complete advantage of the built-in security features of the system, visibility, and control features during all parts of the IoT deployment process. This visibility helps in preventing weak spots within the devices, gives security by the design, and suggests new security improvements. Along with this, the health of all the IoT devices can be monitored consistently and the compromised devices can be blocked using the Azure IoT Hub.

Azure Kubernetes Service

The Azure Kubernetes Service is designed to offer federal agencies serverless Kubernetes. Along with this, the customers are provided with continuous integration and delivery service through enterprise-grade security and governance. Through this service, the process of defining, deploying, debugging, and upgrading the most complex Kubernetes applications can be simplified.

Azure Lighthouse

This service provides the customers with a single control plane for the viewing and managing of Azure across all the user organizations that have higher automation capacity, scale, and enhanced governance. The service providers can use this service for comprehensively managing the Azure platform.

Azure Machine Learning

The concept of machine learning can be best described as a data science technique that allows computers to use the existing data for forecasting the trends and outcomes of the future.

Azure Stack Hub

The Azure stack Hub broadens the Azure Cloud platform and allows the federal organizations to run applications within the on-premise environment and deliver all the Azure services to the data center of the company. Along with this, the organizations can create autonomous clouds that can run completely with partial or total connection with the public cloud.

Azure Sentinel

The Azure Sentinel is a one-of-a-kind cloud solution that is native to the cloud, scalable, and performs a range of functions. These include the security information Event management and security orchestration automated response. This service is designed to focus on the delivery of intelligent security analytical features and threat intelligence across the complete organizational framework.

As a result, this becomes the single solution for threat visibility, threat response processes, and alert detection patterns. The service is designed to not only provide the user organizations with the necessary security framework, but it provides the much-needed threat analysis features which prove to be helpful while dealing with vulnerable information that is dealt with within non-federal information systems. You can reach out to EPCGroup for Azure Sentinel Consulting services.

Errin O'Connor
About the Author

Errin O'Connor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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