Security Bytes

May 23 2012   1:49PM GMT

Officials name FedRAMP cloud security assessors

Robert Westervelt Robert Westervelt Profile: Robert Westervelt


It’s anyone’s guess how the FedRAMP cloud security initiative will pan out, but the pieces are coming together. Last week, the U.S. General Services Administration released an initial list of approved third-party assessment organizations (3PAOs).

Launched by the Obama administration in December, the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) aims to set a standard approach for assessing the security of cloud services. The goal is to cut the cost and time spent on agency cloud assessments and authorizations.

3PAOs will assess cloud service providers’ security controls to validate they meet FedRAMP requirements. Their assessments will be reviewed by the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board, which can grant provisional authorizations that federal agencies can use.

Here’s the list of accredited 3PAOs: COACT, Department of Transportation Enterprise Service Center, Dynamics Research Corp., J.D. Biggs and Associates, Knowledge Consulting Group, Logyx,  Lunarline, SRA International and Veris Group.

If you’re wondering how these companies became 3PAOs, they had to submit an application demonstrating technical competence in assessing security of cloud-based systems, according to the GSA. They also had to meet ISO/IEC 17020:1998 requirements for companies performing assessments.

When I wrote about FedRAMP earlier this year, the program drew praise, criticism and cautious optimism. Will it get bogged down in bureaucracy? Will it become simply another paper-pushing compliance exercise? Will it help advance cloud security standards for the private sector? Hard to say how long it will take until we know those answers, but at least FedRAMP appears to be on schedule.  With the release of the 3PAOs, the program moves closer its target of becoming operational next month.

I’m planning to speak with one of the 3PAOs tomorrow; hopefully I’ll have some additional information from that interview about the 3PAO process and FedRAMP in general. If I do, I’ll post it on

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