What we will cover
What is cyber essentials?
The Cyber Essentials initiative is a set of technical controls developed collaboratively by the UK Government and industry.
It is designed to assist organizations, regardless of size or sector—be it public or private—in enhancing their defence mechanisms and showcasing a dedicated approach to cybersecurity.
Focusing on prevalent internet-based threats employing easily accessible tools and requiring minimal attacker expertise, the Cyber Essentials scheme is instrumental in fortifying organizations against such risks.
By safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of data stored on internet-connected devices, the scheme aids organizations in bolstering their cybersecurity posture.
What is the difference between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus?
Cyber Essentials Plus is all of the above as well as a technical audit of your IT systems to validate the implementation of controls. This additional step provides increased confidence in your adherence to the scheme’s requirements.
This comprehensive security audit is particularly suitable for entities with remote-working employees or those granting third-party access to their premises or IT infrastructure.
Why is cyber essentials important?
Firstly, it demonstrates to customers and clients that your organisation takes cybersecurity seriously.
This is particularly important in the current climate, where cyber attacks and data breaches are becoming increasingly common.
By obtaining a Cyber Essentials certificate, you are showing your stakeholders that you have taken the necessary steps to protect their data and that you are committed to maintaining high levels of cybersecurity. This can help to build trust and credibility with your stakeholders, which can be crucial in today’s digital landscape.
Secondly, a Cyber Essentials certificate can help to protect your organisation from cyber attacks.
The certification process involves an assessment of your organisation’s cybersecurity practices and the implementation of controls to address any identified vulnerabilities.
By obtaining a Cyber Essentials certificate, you are taking proactive steps to protect your organisation against cyber threats and to reduce the risk of a data breach.
Complying with standards
Thirdly, a Cyber Essentials certificate can help your organisation to comply with relevant regulations and industry standards.
Many industries have specific requirements when it comes to cybersecurity, and a Cyber Essentials certificate can help your organisation to meet these requirements.
For example, the UK government requires all suppliers bidding for certain contracts to hold a Cyber Essentials certificate. In addition, many larger organisations have policies in place that require their suppliers to hold a Cyber Essentials certificate.
By obtaining a Cyber Essentials certificate, you can ensure that your organisation is able to bid for these contracts and work with these larger organisations.
Avoid expensive cyber attacks
Fourthly, a Cyber Essentials certificate can help to reduce the cost of cybersecurity for your organisation.
Cyber attacks can be expensive, both in terms of the financial cost of recovering from an attack and the cost to your organisation’s reputation.
By obtaining a Cyber Essentials certificate, you can help to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and the associated costs. In addition, some insurance companies offer discounts on cybersecurity insurance premiums for organisations that hold a Cyber Essentials certificate, which can help to reduce the overall cost of cybersecurity for your organisation.
The wider community
Finally, a Cyber Essentials certificate can help to improve the overall security of the wider economy.
Cyber attacks can have a ripple effect, with the consequences of a single attack being felt by multiple organisations.
By obtaining a Cyber Essentials certificate and helping to reduce the risk of cyber attacks, you can contribute to the overall improvement of cybersecurity within the economy.
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Do I need Cyber Essentials?
All of the above reasons are important considerations. But it’s not needed for everyone.
Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, Cyber Essentials provides a set of fundamental technical controls to safeguard against common internet-based threats. It’s pretty critical for tech organisations, and a stamp of approval if you’re looking to partner with one.
Whatever size business you are, the likelihood is you will be using some common systems that are vulnerable to these threats, and the impact to your reputation, productivity and pocket will be hit if you are targeted.
The certification process ensures that your systems meet a baseline standard, offering protection for data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. And the first time around will be an eye-opening exercise in how many things you can just do better – which is no bad thing.
However, it’s like insurance, you assume it’s there, covering you for every eventuality and something you don’t wish to think about until this particular eventuality has happened, at which point you can’t imagine a time when this particular eventuality wasn’t at the forefront of your mind.
There are lots of potential vulnerabilities to your data and systems, if you want some advice then a technical audit may be an excellent place to start.
How to get Cyber Essentials certification
It’s a self-assessment, form-filling exercise, but it’s going to give you some homework as the questions are well-structured and very specific.
It’s also going to cost a few hundred pounds, that’s the first stage. Head over and pay on the Cyber Essentials website.
You will get a login to the portal, various documentation and some tricky questions. This is where a tech partner can be useful. Shout if it isn’t making sense at this point.
Once you submit your assessment they are normally quite quick to respond, especially with the re-verification process.
You will be assessed and given another opportunity to re-submit for free, but this is a very limited window typically just a few days – so be sure to run your application past your tech partner prior to submitting to avoid additional costs.
If you’re not sure where you’re at, they offer a readiness check, where one of their trusted partners will contact you and work through the Cyber Essentials preparation booklet with you.
You can likely save yourself a little by using a local tech partner that specialises in this kind of thing.
How long does Cyber Essentials certification last?
From there you will be notified to resubmit, the standard improves each year, but the biggest jump is that first one. Every year it is a good quality control check of how your systems have changed and if they are aligned with best practice.
With the application process though you only have a few months from when you have paid for it, to complete the process.
Fail that and you have to resubmit (and pay again) so it makes sense to partner up beforehand the first time around to ensure you’re at the right standard.
What does it cost?
At the time of writing it’s £300, and £1500 for Plus.
You could budget £800 for the pre-assessment through them too, or speak to a local trusted tech partner for a price, they will likely want to know how big you are in order to get a feel for how much work is involved in the assessment before they give you an exact price.
Best of luck
We hope that this intro guide has been of value, if you wish to discuss partnering up on your Cyber Essentials application then please feel free to get in touch.
We initially found it intimidating too, but now genuinely enjoy the renewal process each year as a nudge towards a safer, more secure internet.
The end result is being able to proudly showcase this:
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