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StateRAMP Compliance Checklist

StateRAMP Compliance Checklist


How to achieve StateRAMP certification

Complying with any regulation isn’t just about meeting the requirements. It demonstrates how seriously your organization takes cybersecurity. You prove you want to participate in your ecosystem as a responsible stakeholder who values the security of customers, partners, and suppliers. You want to keep everyone’s data safe.

One such example is StateRAMP. To work with state and local governments, solution providers that use a cloud service to process, store, or transmit data, must first meet the StateRAMP cybersecurity standards. This risk and access management program, launched in 2021, comprises service providers offering infrastructure, platform, and software solutions as well as third-party assessment organizations and government officials.

 

A Commitment to Keeping the Digital Landscape Safe

StateRAMP members commit to making the digital landscape a safer, more secure place for state and local governments and their citizens. The program does this by presenting a common method for verifying the cloud security of vendors that handle government data.

This includes personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI), and payment card industry (PCI) information. In addition to protecting data, StateRAMP saves service providers a lot of time: It allows them to verify their security posture once, and then apply that verification to many state and local governments.

Organizations that join StateRAMP also lessen the cybersecurity burden for government agencies. They serve as responsible members in promoting education, best practices, and policy development for cybersecurity across government communities.

DataBank is a member of StateRAMP and adheres to the baseline requirements of NIST SP800-53. The StateRAMP website offers many helpful resources for achieving certification, and in this blog, we present a checklist to help you navigate the requirements and view the journey ahead.

 

The Key Steps to Achieving StateRAMP Compliance

Start by reviewing the StateRAMP objectives, scope, and compliance levels to confirm your organization falls under the purview of StateRAMP. Then designate a compliance officer on your staff to oversee the compliance process.

The compliance officer can then manage this checklist of tasks as they align with the StateRAMP requirements:

 

  • Compare security controls and practices against the requirements to identify coverage gaps.
  • Prioritize controls and practices to remediate based on the gap analysis—focusing on access control, encryption, incident response, and data protection.
  • Deploy or adapt security controls and practices to address the gaps.
  • Document and align security policies, procedures, and protocols with the regulation guidelines.
  • Educate employees about their roles and responsibilities in maintaining compliance.
  • Classify data based on sensitivity.
  • Implement data handling procedures such as encryption, access controls, and data retention policies.
  • Perform a security assessment and a vulnerability scan to identify and mitigate compliance risks.
  • Develop an incident response plan with procedures for detecting, responding to, and recovering from security incidents.
  • Evaluate and manage the security posture of third-party vendors and subcontractors who provide services to state and local government clients.
  • Maintain audit logs and records of security-related activities—including system changes, user access, and security incidents.
  • Establish continuous monitoring of security controls and systems to ensure ongoing compliance.

After you work your way through this checklist, engage a certified and independent third party to conduct an assessment of your compliance. Follow this by addressing non-compliance issues identified by the assessment and documenting your remediation efforts.

 

Pursuing Certification

Once your organization complies with the StateRAMP standards, you can pursue certification through the accreditation process to validate your compliance. After you achieve your initial certification, it then becomes an ongoing process.

This includes educating new hires and refresher education for the entire staff. You also need to perform regular third-party security assessments and vulnerability scans to identify and mitigate compliance risks.

Along the way, try to stay informed of changes to the StateRAMP requirements, guidelines, and best practices so you can adapt your compliance efforts when needed. Other resources to consider include community forums and knowledge-sharing initiatives to exchange insights, best practices, and lessons learned with peers and industry experts.

 

The Benefits of StateRAMP Compliance

As you conduct regular reviews and evaluations of your compliance program, you will identify areas for improvement. It’s not just about maintaining compliance, it’s also about protecting your data and data belonging to your government customers. StateRAMP provides a solid framework for achieving this objective.

At the same time, by diligently following this checklist, you will bolster your cybersecurity posture and increase the level of trust with your government customers. This in turn enhances your competitiveness in expanding your market opportunities and securing lucrative contracts.

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