When emailing federal data, your organization needs to find the right cloud security solution that is FedRAMP authorized to keep this data secure.
Do you need FedRAMP certification for your email? Normal email security solutions might be insufficient to protect your data, especially when handling federal government data. FedRAMP certification provides hardened email security to ensure FedRAMP compliance.
What Is FedRAMP and How Does It Help Protect Email?
FedRAMP is a federally mandated compliance framework that dictates the security measures that cloud service providers (CSPs) must have in place to partner with governmental agencies. Stemming from guidelines in national security and technology documents (namely NIST 800-53 and FIPS 199), FedRAMP specifies different levels of controls that CSPs must have in place to protect sensitive government data. Some of these controls include measures like:
- Encryption to secure data at rest and in transit
- Access controls to prevent unauthorized access or theft of data
- Physical controls to prevent access to workstations, data centers, or mobile devices
- Training procedures to ensure employee compliance
- Documentation and FedRAMP audit log processes for reporting and forensics
- Documentation of processes that ensure security and availability of the application, including security architecture, vulnerability management, configuration management, contingencies, and incident response.
When you work as a contractor in the federal space and you use a third-party cloud vendor of any sort, then you’re looking for a FedRAMP authorized organization. There are hundreds of controls that your provider must implement depending on the kind of data they are managing. Most importantly, a Third Party Assessment Organization (3PAO) performs regular audits and penetration tests and continuously monitors all configuration changes and incidents to ensure the CSP adheres to the documented processes.
It stands to reason that in our modern-day email communication, that emails also fall under FedRAMP protection. Emails are one of the most common forms of communication today, with roughly 294 billion emails sent every single day.
FedRAMP dictates how an authorized provider handles emails that contain sensitive data–and this includes both internal emails and email services for a client. This actually breaks down into several different security categories:
- Encrypting emails that contain sensitive information through algorithms like TLS.
- Managing access to email accounts, especially for mobile devices and laptops that can move around a building or even off-site.
- Implementing anti-phishing and anti-malware measures, includes software, email warning systems and filters, and training on recognizing attacks.
While these categories are rather broad, they encompass a larger approach to security that protects data that could be compromised via email.
FedRAMP Integration for Email and Mobile Devices
One of the challenges of managing secure email systems is that it can become challenging to manage the security and encryption of those systems across multiple platforms and devices.
For example, think about an email system using public-key encryption. This is a secure way to manage email if managed property by protecting keys and having a dedicated IT team driving it. But it also adds several layers of complexity that just become more complex as the system scales. Managing keys for individuals in a large workplace can become a full-time job, and it can make it that much harder to work with people in agencies external to your organization.
That’s why some companies are bypassing the need for extensive encryption of emails directly and using encrypted data servers with private email access. Instead of sending potentially compromising information directly in an email, the sender can provide a link to the server that requires login credentials to access.
This has a few major benefits for contractors and agencies and commercial organizations that want the gold standard in security:
- All private data remains private in a centralized location. If someone needs information, there is no need to send it over an email that could be compromised. Simply send the link for easy and secure sharing.
- Eliminates the need for complex public email encryption. Your IT staff can focus on encrypting a much smaller attack surface.
- Simplifies working with third parties. If you want to share information with an agency partner, send them a link and create an account, and they can access it in place, without having to have matching encryption or encryption keys on their end. (For one-time users who don’t want to create an account, the sender can issue an SMS authentication one-time-passcode to their phone.)
- Brings more comprehensive security to bear. Not only does the secure server protect the data, but it allows you to manage access and authentication through measures like multi-factor authentication. It also provides the opportunity to log and audit data access for reporting and diagnostics.
- Includes continuous monitoring. All FedRAMP authorized contractors must undergo a rigorous continuous monitoring program, driven by their 3PAO, to ascertain ongoing compliance and security.
This doesn’t remove the need for specific email security measures. Even with a separate, secure server for protected messages, cloud providers will still want to implement regular encryption standards like TLS and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC).
Since more and more employees utilize mobile devices to check email, the same security requirements apply to them in terms of encryption, access and storage. If the device is not secure, then the email will not be secured–more importantly, your overall system will not be compliant.
The Kiteworks® Content Firewall Difference for FedRAMP-Compliant Email
Accellion’s Kiteworks platform is a FedRAMP Moderate Authorized cloud solution. This means that our FedRAMP SFTP, secure email, and cloud features can help federal contractors, agencies and commercial organizations utilize advanced enterprise file sharing and security and compliance analytics. This includes a focus on three major priorities:
- Security: Our secure email is on protected, compliant servers. Utilize your existing email system by sending links to secure files and messages on our servers without exposing data to potential compromise.
- Compliance: The Kiteworks platform gives your organization tools to maintain compliance for FedRAMP MFT, email and storage. Encryption standards, system protective measures, and physical safeguards are concentrated in our systems to ensure compliance with FedRAMP requirements. Accellion increases your organization’s security with a private instance of the Kiteworks application, rather than a multi-tenant application that intermingles your data and metadata with all the vendor’s customers.
- Visibility: Utilize analytics and a CISO dashboard to optimize data use, manage batch file transfers, and coordinate preventative security and responses to any security breaches with a bird’s eye view of your data across your entire network.
Alongside these important features, Accellion includes secure integrations with productivity tools like Office 365 (including Word and Excel). It’s easy to integrate the Kiteworks content firewall into your existing workflow, secure your workspaces, and share information via email.
With effective security, compliance, and visibility tools, you can implement enterprise-level functionality for internal operations or work with external vendors. This way, you receive the benefits of a full-featured cloud provider without sacrificing compliance.
Learn why security-focused enterprises and SMBs are looking to FedRAMP authorization through Accellion.
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Cyber Security on Security Boulevard – Accellion authored by Robert Dougherty. Read the original post at: https://www.accellion.com/secure-email/email-fedramp/