Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are two cybersecurity certification programs developed by the UK government to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats. While both certifications aim to improve an organisation’s cybersecurity posture, they differ in terms of the level of assurance they provide and the assessment process. As the name suggests, Cyber Essentials Plus is an upgraded version of Cyber Essentials, but what does that actually mean for your organisation?
What is Cyber Essentials?
Cyber Essentials is an entry-level certification program that focuses on the implementation of basic cybersecurity controls. The certification is designed to be accessible to organisations of all sizes and sectors and is suitable for those with little or no experience in cybersecurity. The Cyber Essentials certification process involves a self-assessment questionnaire that is completed by the organisation and is then independently verified by a certification body. The questionnaire covers five key areas of cybersecurity:
- Firewalls: Organisations must use firewalls and other boundary security devices to protect their internal networks from external threats.
- Secure configuration: Organisations must ensure that their IT systems are configured securely, with any default passwords and settings changed to something more secure.
- User Access Control: Organisations must restrict access to their systems and data to only those who need it, and ensure that unnecessary users are promptly removed.
- Malware Protection: Organisations must use anti-malware software to protect their systems from viruses, worms, and other types of malware.
- Security Update Management: Organisations must ensure that their systems are kept up to date with the latest security patches, to reduce the risk of known vulnerabilities being exploited by attackers.
By achieving Cyber Essentials certification, organisations can demonstrate to their stakeholders, customers, and suppliers that they take cybersecurity seriously and have implemented appropriate measures to protect against common online threats. Cyber Essentials certification provides a basic level of protection against 80% of cyber attacks, which can help to reduce the likelihood of a successful cyber attack.
However, it’s important to note that Cyber Essentials is not a comprehensive cybersecurity solution and does not guarantee complete protection against more advanced cyber attacks. Organisations are still encouraged to implement additional cybersecurity measures and undertake regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
What is Cyber Essentials Plus?
Cyber Essentials Plus is a more advanced level of certification within the Cyber Essentials scheme. In addition to the five key controls required for Cyber Essentials, organisations must undergo a more rigorous assessment of their cybersecurity measures. This assessment includes a vulnerability scan and an on-site assessment of the organisation’s systems.
The goal of Cyber Essentials Plus is to provide a higher level of assurance that an organisation’s cybersecurity measures are effective. By undergoing a more thorough assessment, organisations can identify any potential weaknesses in their security and take steps to address them.
What are the additional requirements of Cyber Essentials Plus?
To achieve the Cyber Essentials Plus certification, organisations must meet the requirements of Cyber Essentials as well as the following additional requirements:
- Vulnerability scan: Organisations must undergo a vulnerability scan to identify any potential vulnerabilities in their systems. This scan must be conducted by an external certifying body.
- On-site assessment: In addition to the vulnerability scan, organisations must undergo an on-site assessment of their systems. This assessment is conducted by an external certifying body and involves a review of the organisation’s policies, procedures, and technical controls.
- Manual testing: As part of the on-site assessment, the certifying body will conduct manual testing to identify any potential vulnerabilities that may have been missed by the vulnerability scan.
By the way, as part of our Cyber Essentials Plus package, OmniCyber Security can provide all of these services to your organisation. Our team are experts in getting businesses up to standard, and supporting them the whole way.
What are the benefits of Cyber Essentials Plus?
So, why would an organisation choose to pursue Cyber Essentials Plus certification instead of Cyber Essentials? There are several benefits to achieving the more advanced level of certification:
- Greater security assurance: By undergoing a more thorough assessment, organisations can have greater confidence that their cybersecurity measures are effective and will protect against a wider range of threats.
- Competitive advantage: Achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification can provide a competitive advantage for organisations, particularly those that work with sensitive data or in industries where cybersecurity is a top priority.
- Compliance: For some organisations, achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification may be a requirement for compliance with regulations or industry standards.
Which level of certification is right for your organisation?
For smaller organisations with limited resources, Cyber Essentials may be a good starting point. This level of certification provides a solid baseline of cybersecurity measures that can be implemented relatively easily and at a low cost.
For larger organisations with more complex systems and a higher risk of cyber threats, Cyber Essentials Plus may be a better fit. This level of certification provides a more thorough assessment of an organisation’s cybersecurity measures and can help identify potential weaknesses that may have been missed by the baseline controls required for Cyber Essentials.
Which certification is right for you?
Ultimately, the decision of whether to pursue Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus certification depends on a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of the organisation, the sensitivity of the data it handles, and the level of risk it faces from cyber threats.
Cyber Essentials is a good option for smaller organisations or those with limited cybersecurity resources. It provides a basic level of protection against common online threats and can help organisations demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity best practices.
On the other hand, Cyber Essentials Plus is a better fit for larger organisations or those that handle sensitive data. It provides a higher level of assurance and demonstrates a greater commitment to protecting systems and data.
It’s important to note that achieving Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus certification is not a one-time process. Both certifications require ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure that cybersecurity measures remain effective and up to date.
At OmniCyber Security, we know Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus inside out. Our experts will advise you on which certification is best for your organisation and guide you through the whole process. Contact us today to discuss how we OmniCyber can address your needs.