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Cyber Essentials: What is it and how can it help my business?

Cyber crime, with an annual cost of 6 trillion dollars, would rank as the third largest country globally if it were a nation, surpassing even the US and China. Not only that, it currently accounts for over 50% of all Internet traffic.

Criminals thrive due to their innovation, resourcefulness, and adaptability with recent events such as the pandemic, the economic landscape and the war in Ukraine adding to the challenges faced by many businesses.

In fact, John Chambers, the former CEO of Cisco Systems, once said: ‘It’s no longer a question of ‘IF’ you’ll be breached, it’s a question of ‘WHEN’ and SMEs are increasingly realising this is the case as the majority (58%) of attacks target small businesses, meaning they are collectively subject to 10,000+ cyber attacks a day.

It’s no longer a question of ‘IF’ you’ll be breached, it’s a question of ‘WHEN’

On top of that, businesses face significant challenges in cyber security. Many lack proper protection, with 56% failing to provide staff with security awareness training. Additionally, 60% lack security policies, a fundamental requirement of GDPR compliance. Surprisingly, 87% of businesses remain uninsured.

The impact of these factors is not to be ignored. Financially, the consequences are significant, so much so that 60% of small businesses close within six months after being hacked, and this figure rises to 93% for companies that lose access to their data for 10 days.

But is not all doom and gloom. The good news is that there is something you can do to protect your business – becoming Cyber Essentials Certified.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber essentials is a certification backed by the UK government. It aims to simplify compliance with cyber security regulation for small and medium businesses by breaking it down into 5 controls.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of Cyber Essentials certification, how it compares to other compliance standards and download your Cyber Essentials checklist to make sure you pass it the first time.

Why do I need Cyber Essentials?

There are many benefits to Cyber essentials. It can help you:

  • Protect against 98.5% of cyber threats.
  • Win new business and build trust with customers and partners.
  • Prevent a data breach and avoid potentially crippling fines.
  • Lower your insurance costs by decreasing your cyber security risk.
  • Reduce your risk of failing by reducing your risk of being attacked.
  • Improve business efficiency and increase productivity to reduce costs.

The 5 cyber essential requirements

To become cyber essentials certified, you’ll have to:

  1. Use a firewall to secure your internet connection,
  2. Choose the most secure settings for your devices and software,
  3. Control who has access to your data and systems,
  4. Protect against malware and viruses, and
  5. Keep your devices and software up to date.

As of April 2023, organisations looking to get certified will also have to implement Multi-Factor Authentication and take action to secure their cloud environments. These extra measures have been put in place this year to keep up with cyber security trends seen in recent months, especially when it comes to cloud security.

What is Cyber Essentials Plus

For businesses that need more reassurance that their cyber security is up to scratch, there is Cyber Essentials Plus. This certification is based on the same 5 Cyber Essentials controls but is independently verified by a licensed auditor to check that all the requirements have in fact been met.

Who should get Cyber Essentials?

The Cyber Essentials scheme was designed for anyone interested in taking control of their cyber security. The simplified controls and self-assessment mean that even small and medium businesses with limited IT resources are able to get Cyber Essentials certification without breaking the bank.

What is the difference between Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001?

Cyber Essentials is not the only compliance standard available to businesses.

In the table below you can compare some of the more popular compliance standards at a glance. Which one is right for you?

Table that shows a comparison of compliance standards
Cyber essentials, ISO 27001, PCI DSS or GDPR, which one is right for you?

You’ve probably heard a lot about ISO 27001. So, how does it compare to Cyber Essentials?

Well, Cyber Essentials is a UK government backed information security certification based on a simple set of 5 controls to protect information from common access threats. It includes the basic precautions businesses should take and the option to be independently verified by an auditor with Cyber Essentials Plus.

ISO 27001 is an international standard that specifies a comprehensive management system to secure and manage information assets. It is divided into 14 sections and it’s highly adaptable to suit the specific context for each organisation.

Register for our webinar and download your Cyber Essentials Checklist

To pass Cyber Essentials the first time you need to be prepared and check that you are meeting the 5 controls.

We put together a checklist to help you evaluate your business’ cyber security stance so you can be sure your systems are protected and you’ll pass your Cyber Essentials assessment.

You can also register for our webinar where we’ll share more information about how to obtain Cyber Essentials certification including how to fill in the Cyber Essentials questionnaire correctly, how long it takes to get certified and what you need to do stay compliant. Click here to register today.

To find out how we can help you get certified, feel free to get in touch. Plus, if you book a call with one of our experts, we’ll carry out a thorough, independent risk assessment of your IT systems, completely FREE.

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