Everything You Need to Know about Cyber Essentials

Gowsika

Gowsika

Mar 22, 2024

Everything You Need to Know about Cyber Essentials

Amid the rapid strides into the digital realm, the accompanying risks loom large. The emergence of Cyber Essentials stands as a pivotal response to these challenges within contemporary cybersecurity. Crafted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), this nationally recognized certification acts as a cornerstone, erecting a robust defense against prevalent online threats. Its implementation of fundamental security measures strengthens businesses of varying scales and provides a resilient shield against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber risks.digital era comes with its own risks.

Considered the first and crucial step towards a more secure network, Cyber Essentials protects against up to 80% of basic cyber breaches. Particularly vital for SaaS companies, this certification becomes a pivotal defense mechanism for managing sensitive client data on cloud-based platforms; it assures clients of robust security protocols, enhancing trust and credibility in a competitive market. In this blog we will take you through the essential aspects of Cyber Essentials certification, offering a comprehensive view of its importance and implementation.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is a fundamental set of standards and assessments to foster robust cybersecurity practices within companies in the United Kingdom. These guidelines offer a structured approach for organizations to implement technical and administrative controls, establishing a baseline for cybersecurity resilience.

Achieving Cyber Essentials certification signifies a commitment to safeguarding against prevalent cyber threats. Cyber Essentials certification offers two tiers, each with varying assessment depths:

Cyber Essentials is where organizations engage in self-assessment exercises covering fundamental cybersecurity principles. This tier is a starting point, providing a foundation for implementing additional security measures.

Cyber Essentials Plus involves thorough on-site audits conducted by external experts. This tier comprehensively evaluates an organization’s cybersecurity systems, providing an in-depth assessment of its security posture.

Who needs cyber essentials?

Cyber Essentials Certification is necessary for entities seeking central government contracts that involve the handling of sensitive data and personal information or providing specific technical products and services. This certification is mandatory for bidding on such contracts, ensuring compliance with government cybersecurity standards, and safeguarding sensitive information.

Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essential Plus

Distinguishing between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus is pivotal in navigating the terrain of cybersecurity certifications. While both serve to safeguard against cyber threats, they vary significantly in their assessment methodologies and security coverage.

Cyber EssentialsCyber Essential Plus
Entry-level certification A more rigorous evaluation 
Focuses on fundamental security controls and principlesIncludes hands-on technical testing
Based on a self-assessment questionnaire and verifies basic security measuresInvolves comprehensive technical verification by independent assessors.
Emphasizes protection against prevalent cyber threats Validates more advanced security measures 
Designed for organizations seeking a foundational level of cybersecurity assuranceIdeal for entities requiring a higher level of assurance and a more in-depth security validation
Suited for small to medium-sized businessesSuitable for larger organizations 
Provides a starting point to enhance cybersecurity measuresOffers a thorough assessment, ensuring a higher level of protection


The above table highlights the critical distinctions between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. However, you need to choose the appropriate certification aligned with your organization’s security needs and maturity level.

Requirements of Cyber Essentials

Fulfilling the Cybe­r Essentials requirements act as a checklist to achieve your certification. These guidelines, articulated in the NSCS Cyber Essentials Requirements for IT Infrastructure, contain five significant components for establishing a strong cybersecurity framework. 
Note that both Cyber Esse­ntials and Cyber Essentials Plus adhere­ to similar requirements. The distinction is in the technical re­view, which provides an extra level of confidence regarding the effectiveness of an organization’s controls.

Requirements of Cyber Essentials

Here are the five requirements of cyber essentials:

Firewalls

Ensuring that every internet-connected device has firewall protection is crucial. Configuring firewalls to permit only necessary traffic, regular maintenance, and updates is critical. This discovers vulnerabilities in the internal networks and implements intrusion detection systems to identify security risks in the external networks. Fulfilling these requirements involves:

  • Set strong administrative passwords or disable remote admin access.
  • Restricting administrative access based on clear business needs.
  • Blocking unauthorized connections automatically.
  • Approval of inbound firewall rules by authorized personnel and swift removal of unnecessary rules.
  • Installing software firewalls on devices used in untrusted networks.


Secure configuration

Configuring systems and devices securely involves mitigating vulnerabilities by limiting unnecessary services and ensuring robust password settings. To adhere to these requirements:

  • Eliminate or disable redundant user accounts and software.
  • Change default passwords and disable auto-run features.
  • Authenticate users before granting access to business services.
  • Establish robust unlocking controls requiring biometric data, passwords, or PINs.

User access control

Effective management of user access is critical to minimize risks associated with misuse or theft of accounts. Compliance involves:

  • Implementing a structured process for creating and authorizing user accounts.
  • Authenticating users before granting access.
  • Regularly reviewing and eliminating unnecessary user accounts.
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication whenever feasible.
  • Utilizing specific accounts for administrative tasks.

A compliance automation tool like Sprinto supports role-based access controls for airtight security measures, continuous control monitoring, policy enforcement, and more.

Speak to our experts to know more

Malware protection

Protection against malware entails deploying anti-virus and anti-malware software, conducting regular scans, and ensuring these tools are updated and effective.

  • Install malware protection on every business device and enable automatic file scans.
  • Keeping malware software up-to-date.
  • Restricting access to malicious websites.

Security update management

Continuously updating and refining security measures based on changing regulations and business objectives are vital. These requirements encompass:

  • Maintaining all hardware and software with regular updates.
  • Enabling automatic updates where feasible.
  • Prompt installation of patch updates.
  • Uninstalling software that lacks cybersecurity updates.


Read more: Security Posture: What Is It and Steps To Improve

Benefits of Cyber Essentials

Acquiring Cyber Esse­ntials accreditation serves as a robust de­fense shield, shie­lding businesses from cyber threats and vulnerabilities. It not only enhance­s trust and credibility but also provides a strong mechanism to safe­guard digital assets. Here are a few significant benefits:

Benefits of Cyber Essentials

Enhancing cyber se­curity measures: This program enables organizations to assess their current cybersecurity standing, pinpointing vulnerabilitie­s and opportunities for advancement. It stre­amlines and strengthens an organization’s se­curity infrastructure, facilitating improved understanding and ove­rsight of security protocols by IT teams.

Protection from cyber threats: To successfully navigate the treacherous landscape of modern cyber threats requires demonstrating resilience­ against common low-level attacks. Certification se­rves as concrete evidence of safeguarding against hackers effectively lowers the likelihood of falling victim to malware or expe­riencing data breaches.

Improved customer trust: By gaining Cyber Esse­ntials certification, businesses de­monstrate their dedication to safe­guarding data, thereby appealing to clients who value secure transactions and e­nhancing the company’s standing.

Ensuring supply chain security:  This is a critical aspect of business operations. It’s worth noting that being included in the UK’s NCSC Database is a testament to a company’s commitment to re­sponsible and secure practices. This acknowledgement significantly bolsters trust and re­liability in collaborative business ende­avors.

Aligning with regulations: Although Cybe­r Essentials certification isn’t obligatory, it ensure­s that corporate processes comply with data se­curity regulations and could serve as a pre­requisite for particular UK government contracts, thus guaranteeing adhere­nce to industry standards and regulations.

Sprinto provides comprehensive control over your security measures at the entity level, facilitating risk assessments and automation across various tiers. With an intuitive dashboard, you can effortlessly oversee and manage your organization’s cybersecurity posture while meeting Cyber Essentials requirements seamlessly.

Speak to our experts today to learn more.

How much does Cyber Essentials certification cost?

The pricing for Cyber Essentials (verified self-assessment) operates on a tiered structure, aligning with globally recognized classifications for micro, small, medium, and large enterprises. Here’s a simple breakdown:

  • For micro businesses (0-9 employees), the cost is £300 plus VAT.
  • Small-sized companies (10-49 employees) are charged £400 plus VAT.
  • Medium-sized enterprises (50-249 employees) incur a fee of £450 plus VAT.
  • Large corporations (250+ employees) are quoted £500 plus VAT for certification.

Final Thoughts

A recent study suggests that cybercrime could cost the world an estimated $10.5 trillion by 2025. With data breaches and cyber crimes rising across all industries, cyber threat protection through schemes like Cyber Essentials should become an integral business strategy. This proactively positions your organization securely today and for the increasingly digitized future. The relatively low cost and ease of implementation make cyber essentials hugely beneficial.

Sprinto is a smart compliance automation solution that empowers organizations to thoroughly analyze their cybersecurity controls, track threats and vulnerabilities, perform compliance checks, and consolidate potential risks for developing effective mitigation strategies. Overall, Sprinto proactively minimizes the risk of attacks and amplifies your cybersecurity endeavors, instilling trust and confidence in your clients.

FAQs

What does Cyber Essentials cover?

Cyber Essentials covers five key areas: firewalls, secure configuration, user access control, malware protection, and security update management. These areas focus on basic but critical security practices.

Why is Cyber Essentials important?

Cyber Essentials helps businesses establish essential security practices to safeguard against cyber-attacks like malware, phishing, and hacking. It builds a strong foundation for better online protection.

Is Cyber Essentials a one-time certification?

Cyber Essentials certification needs renewal annually to ensure ongoing compliance and up-to-date security practices.

Is cyber essentials a legal requirement? 

It is not a legal requirement, but some government contracts and industry bodies highly recommend it as a minimum security standard. It’s always advisable to check specific industry regulations or contractual obligations to determine if Cyber Essentials certification is required, as legal requirements might evolve.

Gowsika

Gowsika

Gowsika is an avid reader and storyteller who untangles the knotty world of compliance and cybersecurity with a dash of charming wit! While she’s not decoding cryptic compliance jargon, she’s oceanside, melody in ears, pondering life’s big (and small) questions. Your guide through cyber jungles, with a serene soul and a sharp pen!

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