Data breaches can have devastating consequences, leading to financial losses, reputational damage, and even legal trouble. For companies working with the government, the stakes are even higher. The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) establishes a framework to ensure the security of government data, and compliance is often a prerequisite for securing government contracts. However, the benefits of FISMA extend far beyond simply meeting contractual obligations. FISMA assessments can be a powerful tool for strengthening your overall security posture, protecting all your valuable information, not just government-related data.


FISMA assessments are designed to evaluate and enhance the security measures of federal agencies and their contractors. By conducting these assessments, businesses can identify vulnerabilities, implement necessary controls, and ensure compliance with federal standards. This not only protects sensitive information but also builds trust with federal partners, opening doors to new opportunities.

Understanding FISMA Assessments: A Look Under the Hood

FISMA was enacted in 2002 to address the growing need for secure federal information systems. It requires federal agencies and their contractors to develop, document, and implement a comprehensive information security program. This program must protect information and systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction.

Think of a FISMA assessment as a thorough security checkup, identifying areas of strength and weaknesses that need improvement. Here’s how it works:

  • Risk Assessment: The assessment starts with a deep dive into your organization’s risk profile. This involves identifying potential threats, such as malware attacks, unauthorized access attempts, or even physical security breaches. By understanding your vulnerabilities, you can prioritize your security efforts.
  • Security Control Evaluation: FISMA outlines a set of security controls that organizations should implement to mitigate identified risks. These controls can be technical (firewalls, encryption), administrative (security policies, access controls), or physical (secure areas, restricted access). The assessment will evaluate how effectively your current controls address the identified risks.
  • Gap Analysis: The assessment doesn’t stop at identifying vulnerabilities. It will also pinpoint any gaps in your existing security controls. This can be anything from a missing security policy to inadequate access controls for sensitive data.

Building a Stronger Security Foundation: The Benefits of FISMA Assessments

While FISMA compliance is crucial for government contractors, the benefits of FISMA assessments extend far beyond contractual requirements. Here are some compelling reasons to consider a FISMA assessment for your business, regardless of government involvement:

  • Proactive Threat Identification: FISMA assessments go beyond simply patching existing holes. They help you identify potential threats before they become an issue. This proactive approach allows you to address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Improved Security Posture: By highlighting gaps in your security controls, FISMA assessments give you a roadmap for improvement. This can involve implementing new controls, strengthening existing ones, or simply raising awareness among your employees about cybersecurity best practices.
  • Enhanced Data Protection: Stronger security controls mean better protection for all your data, not just government-related information. A FISMA assessment can help you safeguard sensitive customer information, intellectual property, and other valuable assets.

Case Study: The Hospital Hack and the Importance of a Strong Security Posture

In 2015, a major hospital chain experienced a cyberattack that compromised the personal information of millions of patients. The attackers gained access to the hospital’s network through a single, unpatched server. This incident highlights the importance of a comprehensive security posture. A FISMA assessment could have identified this vulnerability and helped the hospital implement the necessary controls to prevent the breach.

Beyond Compliance: How CPA Firms Can Help You Leverage FISMA Assessments

While FISMA assessments offer numerous benefits, navigating the process can be complex. CPA firms with expertise in FISMA can be invaluable partners in helping your business achieve a stronger security posture. Here’s how they can assist you:

  • Understanding FISMA Requirements: CPA firms can help you understand the specific FISMA requirements applicable to your business. Not all businesses require the same level of security controls. A qualified CPA can help you determine the appropriate compliance level for your situation.
  • Risk Assessment and Gap Analysis: CPA firms possess the expertise to conduct a thorough risk assessment and identify vulnerabilities in your security controls. They can also help you develop a plan to address these gaps and improve your overall security posture.
  • Documentation and Reporting: FISMA compliance involves extensive documentation. CPA firms can assist you in preparing the necessary documentation and reports for your assessment.


Investing in Your Security: Taking the Next Step

A FISMA assessment may seem like an additional burden, but it’s an investment in your organization’s future. By proactively identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities, you can significantly reduce your risk of a data breach and protect your valuable information. Partnering with a qualified CPA firm with expertise in FISMA assessments can make the process smoother and ensure you reap the full benefits of a strengthened security posture.

Contact our team of FISMA experts today to learn more about how we can help your business achieve a stronger security posture and navigate the complexities of FISMA compliance. We offer a free consultation to discuss your specific needs and answer any questions you may have.

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about how Audit Peak can assist you with your FISMA compliance or for a free consultation. WE WILL TAKE YOU TO THE PEAK.