GitLab FedRAMP Authorization Program

Overview

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a United States government-wide program that standardizes security requirements for the authorization and ongoing cybersecurity of cloud services in accordance with the FedRAMP Authorization Act, FISMA, and OMB Circular A-130. In short, Federal Agencies are required to procure FedRAMP-authorized cloud services, and cloud service providers are required to be FedRAMP authorized in order to sell to federal agencies and handle their data. FedRAMP.gov has more information about the program including the authorization process, the marketplace, and other helpful resources.

FedRAMP authorization has three levels (low, moderate, and high) based upon the sensitivity of the data that is stored, processed, or transmitted in the cloud service. These levels have varying degrees of controls (security requirements) that must be implemented. The controls are selected from NIST 800-53.

FedRAMP Authorization Process

There are two possible authorization paths that vary slightly; however, the common process includes:

  1. Preparation, partnership establishment, and readiness assessment
  2. Full security assessment resulting in an Authorization to Operate (ATO)
  3. Continuous monitoring and annual assessments

An assessment (security audit) of a cloud service against FedRAMP requirements that results an acceptable level of residual risk (as deemed by a sponsoring Agency and the FedRAMP Program Management Office) results in an Authorization to Operate (ATO). The results of this assessment and the ATO can subsequently be relied upon and reused by other Agencies/customers who want or need the FedRAMP-authorized cloud service, rather than having to repeat an assessment and authorization process for each customer.

GitLab’s FedRAMP initiative

GitLab is pursuing FedRAMP Moderate authorization for a new government community cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. A government community cloud is intended for use by U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial customers, in addition to federally funded research centers (FFRDCs), contractors or service providers working on behalf of the government, and lab entities.

FedRAMP is a top cross-functional initiative at GitLab and has a working group that convenes at least monthly. The Security Compliance (Dedicated Markets) team is responsible for translating and clarifying the FedRAMP requirements for the organization, providing advice and consultation, and ultimately achieving and maintaining compliance.

Unfortunately, GitLab cannot publicly share specific timelines or progress with key milestones at this time. Internal team members can learn more here.

What are some of the FedRAMP requirements (controls)?

FedRAMP Authorization is very challenging and requires prescriptive security controls to be implemented at the organizational, system, and process levels. Some of the several hundred requirements include:

  • FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography for all data at rest and in transit (to/from/within) the system
  • Vulnerability Scanning of all hosts, web applications, containers, and databases
  • Remediation of all vulnerabilities within prescribed SLAs and a deviation request process
  • Reporting of vulnerability posture, complete asset inventory, and significant changes to the system or product
  • Timely application of security updates/patches
  • Various product capabilities related to authentication and authorization, audit logging, and session handling
  • Digitally signing software and integrity verification
  • System configuration hardening
  • Network security requirements and prescriptive architectures (can only connect to other FedRAMP authorized cloud services)
  • DNSSEC, DMARC, SPF, and DKIM
  • Key, certificate, and secrets management requirements
  • Security event monitoring and incident response capabilities
  • Disaster Recovery planning and testing procedures
  • File integrity monitoring, intrusion and antimalware detection
  • Supply chain risk management procedures
  • Security training
  • Personnel security and hiring practices
  • Documentation package including a system security plan (hundreds of pages), supporting attachments, and detailed architecture / data flow diagrams

How does FedRAMP compare to other security/compliance frameworks, attestations, or certifications?

FedRAMP has similarities with other security compliance “certifications” in that it requires implementation of a broad set of requirements across multiple security domains and requires an independent auditor to render an opinion on the design and operating effectiveness of the controls. However, the difference with FedRAMP is the prescriptiveness of the requirements, the documentation that must be maintained, and the role that the 3rd Party Assessment Organization (3PAO/auditor) and the FedRAMP Program Management Office plays.

Let’s look at some examples: TO BE DEVELOPED

How do FedRAMP authorized infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers fit in? Is it enough to host our system there?

SaaS offerings can inherit (partially or fully) some of the required controls from a FedRAMP authorized IaaS provider. These are typically limited to physical and environmental controls, physical media protection, and local maintenance controls. It is possible to transfer additional responsibility for control implementation by leveraging other managed services from the IaaS providers (such as database-as-a-service, serverless compute, managed security services, etc.) however even these will only partially fulfill the full set of requirements. The vast majority of the requirements must still be implemented by the SaaS provider and cannot be inherited.

Who to contact

Please reach out to @dedicated_compliance in the # sec-assurance or # wg_fedramp channels on Slack for questions about the requirements or the process. For other questions, including product-specific matters, reach out to the # wg_fedramp channel or contact a member of the US Public Sector Services product group.

Last modified September 6, 2023: Replace taps with spaces (69f17a79)