Introduced in 2014, Cyber Essentials is a government-backed scheme that was created to help businesses to protect themselves from common cyber threats, thus protecting their data, ensuring compliance and avoiding damages and losses to information and reputation.

The scheme applies ‘five technical controls’, which, when implemented and maintained effectively, will allow you to attain the Cyber Essentials certification and show to your customers and partners that you take cyber security (and their data) seriously. There are two levels of certification:

  • Cyber Essentials
  • Cyber Essentials Plus

    Why get Cyber Essentials Accreditation?

    If you have never been the victim of a cyber-attack before, this certification and putting it into practice might seem a little pointless. That said, sometimes it’s better to avoid learning from experience, as they say, ‘once bitten, twice shy’. With cyber-attacks becoming more frequent and impactful, it is important to take steps to assure the cyber security of your business.

    Cyber Essentials is a starting point, an effective framework for implementing protective measures against the most common cybersecurity threats. This said, it is not a silver bullet for cybersecurity, so although implementing it can really help with protecting your business, applying Cyber Essentials will not be a definite protection. It is estimated that about 85% of all cyber threats are protected against when the five technical controls of Cyber Essentials are implemented.

    Cyber Essentials is a requirement for some government contracts

    Certain government contracts require bidding companies to hold the Cyber Essentials accreditation. Some contracts require Cyber Essentials as the minimum certification and many require a bidding company to hold Cyber Essentials Plus for contracts involving more sensitive data. This means that not having Cyber Essentials can put your business behind your competition for certain opportunities. Businesses without government-backed accreditations such as Cyber Essentials, risk taking themselves out completely from running for potentially very lucrative contracts.

    It can help you to become GDPR compliant

    The Cyber Essential’s framework is aligned with GDPR legislation and by implementing Cyber Essentials, you can get more peace of mind around compliance and safeguarding data.

    GDPR’s security principle, states that personal data should be: ‘Processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures’. Having Cyber Essentials can aide flawless compliance with GDPR legislation, whilst serving as a social proof of your business’ ability to fully comply with legislated regulations, creating trust with potential clients and partners.

    It is a solid long-term investment

    You will have to make a small investment to become certified, but the long-term financial benefits can be immense in proportion – and not just due to the contracts we mentioned earlier. Once your organisation achieves certification, it can enjoy ‘Cyber liability insurance’ which offers £25,000 worth of cover against cyber-attacks. The only exception is when a business is large enough to exceed a £20m annual turnover, which would make it ineligible for this. That said, it is likely that you will benefit from lower insurance premiums because of having this certification as well.

    Cyber-attacks cost money. Cyber Essentials will lower your likelihood of one causing problems such as downtime, along with the chance to boost the reputation of your business and the revenue it brings in from the new business that it attracts. There are many benefits which can be enjoyed at a ridiculously low yearly fee, making it an easy choice for many.

    So, what are the five technical controls?

    Introducing the Five key controls of Cyber Essentials

    As we mentioned earlier, Cyber Essentials requires the practical application of the five technical measures, known as the ‘five controls’. These measures are not optional; all businesses which undergo assessment are required to implement them without exception.

    The five controls are:

    1. Firewalls

    2. Secure Configuration

    3. Applying Access Controls

    4. Anti-Malware measures

    5. Patch management

    In the next blog of this series, we will explore these five controls in depth and what you need to do to ensure that you are compliant with Cyber Essentials and guaranteed to achieve the certification.

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