In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is more important than ever. With cyber threats becoming increasingly sophisticated, businesses of all sizes need to take steps to protect their sensitive data and systems.
One way to do this is by achieving certification through the Cyber Essentials scheme. But with two certification options available, Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus, it can be difficult to determine which is the right choice for your business.
In this article, we’ll compare Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essentials Plus to help you make an informed decision. We’ll also discuss the importance of preparing for Cyber Essentials Plus certification and provide guidance on whether your business needs Cyber Essentials certification.
What is Cyber Essentials?
Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed cybersecurity certification scheme designed to help businesses protect themselves against common cyber threats. The scheme outlines five key security controls that organisations must have in place to achieve certification:
- Secure configuration – Ensuring that all systems and software are configured securely and are up to date.
- Boundary firewalls and internet gateways – Implementing measures to protect against unauthorized access and ensure that all network traffic is monitored.
- Access control and administrative privilege management – Ensuring that only authorized users have access to sensitive data and systems.
- Patch management – Ensuring that all software is kept up to date with the latest security patches.
- Malware protection – Implementing measures to protect against malware, such as anti-virus software and email filters.
By achieving Cyber Essentials certification, businesses can demonstrate to customers, partners, and suppliers that they have taken the necessary steps to secure their systems and data. Additionally, some government contracts now require Cyber Essentials certification as a minimum security standard.
Overall, Cyber Essentials is an excellent starting point for businesses looking to improve their cybersecurity posture. However, for organisations that require a higher level of security, Cyber Essentials Plus may be a better option. We’ll explore Cyber Essentials Plus in the next section.
What is Cyber Essentials Plus?
Cyber Essentials Plus is a more advanced level of cybersecurity certification than Cyber Essentials. In addition to the five key security controls required for Cyber Essentials certification, Cyber Essentials Plus also includes a more rigorous assessment of an organisation’s security measures. This assessment is carried out by an independent certification body and includes a vulnerability scan and penetration testing to identify any weaknesses in the organisation’s systems and networks.
To achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification, organisations must first achieve Cyber Essentials certification. Once this has been achieved, a certified assessor will carry out the additional assessment required for Cyber Essentials Plus.
Achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification demonstrates a higher level of security than Cyber Essentials certification. It provides additional assurance to customers, partners, and suppliers that an organisation’s systems and data are secure. Additionally, some government contracts require Cyber Essentials Plus certification as a minimum security standard.
It’s worth noting that achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification can be a more time-consuming and expensive process than achieving Cyber Essentials certification. However, the benefits of achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification may outweigh the additional costs and effort for organisations that require a higher level of security.
Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essentials Plus: What’s the difference?
The main difference between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus is the level of assessment and assurance provided by each certification. While Cyber Essentials provides a basic level of security assurance, Cyber Essentials Plus provides a more comprehensive assessment of an organisation’s security measures.
Cyber Essentials certification is achieved through a self-assessment questionnaire that is reviewed by a certification body. The certification body checks that the questionnaire has been completed correctly and that the organisation meets the five key security controls required for certification. This process is relatively straightforward and can usually be completed in a short amount of time.
In contrast, achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification requires a more rigorous assessment of an organisation’s security measures. In addition to the self-assessment questionnaire, an independent certification body carries out a vulnerability scan and penetration testing to identify any weaknesses in the organisation’s systems and networks. This process can take longer and be more expensive than achieving Cyber Essentials certification.
Overall, the level of certification required will depend on the organisation’s specific security needs and requirements. While Cyber Essentials may be suitable for some organisations, those that require a higher level of security assurance may prefer to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification.
Preparing for Cyber Essentials Plus certification
Preparing for Cyber Essentials Plus certification can be a daunting process, but with the right approach and guidance, it can be a manageable and valuable experience. Here are some key steps to consider when preparing for Cyber Essentials Plus certification:
- Achieve Cyber Essentials certification first: As mentioned earlier, Cyber Essentials Plus certification requires an organisation to first achieve Cyber Essentials certification. This is an important first step, as it will ensure that the organisation has the basic security measures in place before undergoing the more rigorous assessment required for Cyber Essentials Plus.
- Identify any gaps in security: Once Cyber Essentials certification has been achieved, the organisation should identify any gaps in their security measures. This can be done through a gap analysis or security audit, which will highlight any areas that require improvement.
- Address any gaps in security: Once the gaps in security have been identified, the organisation should take steps to address them. This may involve implementing additional security controls or improving existing controls to meet the requirements of Cyber Essentials Plus.
- Engage a certified assessor: To achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification, the organisation will need to engage a certified assessor to carry out the additional assessment required. It’s important to choose a reputable and experienced assessor who can provide guidance and support throughout the certification process.
- Be prepared for the assessment: The assessment for Cyber Essentials Plus is more rigorous than for Cyber Essentials, so it’s important to be prepared. This may involve carrying out additional testing or providing evidence of security measures in place. The certified assessor will provide guidance and support throughout the process to ensure that the organisation is prepared.
Overall, preparing for Cyber Essentials Plus certification can be a valuable process for organisations looking to improve their cybersecurity posture. It provides a higher level of assurance to customers, partners, and suppliers that the organisation’s systems and data are secure. Additionally, achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification can open up new business opportunities and help organisations meet the minimum security standards required for government contracts.
Do I need Cyber Essentials?
While Cyber Essentials certification is not mandatory, it is increasingly becoming a requirement for organisations that work with the UK government or want to bid for government contracts. In fact, since 2014, Cyber Essentials certification has been mandatory for suppliers bidding for government contracts that involve handling sensitive and personal information.
Aside from government contracts, Cyber Essentials certification can also provide value for organisations looking to improve their cybersecurity posture and demonstrate to customers and partners that they take security seriously. Cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, and it’s important for organisations of all sizes and industries to take steps to protect their systems and data.
In addition, achieving Cyber Essentials certification can provide some benefits such as:
- Demonstrating compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other data protection regulations.
- Enhancing the organisation’s reputation and demonstrating its commitment to security.
- Reducing the risk of cyber attacks and the associated costs and reputational damage.
- Meeting the minimum security standards required by many organisations when selecting suppliers.
Overall, while Cyber Essentials certification is not mandatory for all organisations, it can provide valuable benefits for those looking to improve their security posture and meet the minimum security standards required by many organisations.
If you’re interested in achieving Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus certification for your organisation, ACUTEC can help. As a leading IT consultancy and cybersecurity provider, we have helped numerous organisations achieve Cyber Essentials certification and prepare for Cyber Essentials Plus certification.