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Feds Certify AWS and Microsoft Azure for the Most Sensitive Workloads

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) has finally certified Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's respective public cloud services with the highest level of compliance clearance. CSRA, a provider that offers IT services specifically to government agencies, also reached the long-awaited FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board (JAB) Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) clearance.

Though the move was long expected, it paves the way for federal agencies to run the most sensitive, high-impact workloads on the three companies' public clouds, which means including personally identifiable information, financial data and law enforcement information, among other forms of unclassified content. In all it covers 400 different security controls.

AWS and Microsoft Azure were both FedRAMP-compliant for several years but only for low-level or moderate workloads. "Now, Azure Government has controls in place to securely process high-impact level data -- that is, data that, if leaked or improperly protected, could have a severe adverse effect on organizational operations, assets, or individuals," said Susie Adams, Microsoft Federal's Chief Technology Officer, in a blog post announcing its upgraded FedRAMP status.

The Azure Government FedRAMP High accreditation now covers 13 customer-facing services, including Azure Key Vault, Express Route and Web Apps, released last month "representing a significantly more agile pace of accreditation to the benefit of Federal customers," she noted.

"Agencies are already using the service," FedRAMP Director Mark Goodrich told my colleague Mark Rockwell at sister publication Federal Computer Week. The clearances apply to the AWS Government and Azure Government offerings but promise to validate to all cloud users that the companies have implement best practices to ensure compliance.

Teresa Carlson, Amazon's Public Sector VP, claimed in a statement that more than 2,300 government customers worldwide use the AWS cloud. "By demonstrating the security of the AWS Cloud with the FedRAMP High baseline, agencies can confidently use our services for an even broader set of critical mission applications and innovations."

That baseline, the statement noted, "is mapped to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) security controls, which classify data as 'High' if a compromise would severely impact an organization's operations, assets or individuals."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/23/2016 at 12:04 PM


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