In this world of digitalization, information is widely available on the internet, and both businesses and consumers are at risk of data theft.
Every year, as technology becomes more complex, so do cyberattacks. Digital crime is not limited to any single internet-accessible platform. Without cybersecurity, it’s difficult for organizations or consumers to protect their data, devices, network, or system from malicious attacks.
Organizations have to have a "cyber essentials" certification in order to show their credentials as trustworthy and safe in terms of cyber security.
In this article by Sprintzeal, we have discussed all aspects of cyber essentials and their benefits. It also explains how Cyber Essentials works and the necessary steps to become Cyber Essentials Certified.
Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed scheme that was launched in 2014. The aim of the scheme was to provide basic cyber security for organizations of any size.
The main purpose of cyber essentials is to protect organizations from common cyber threats, such as hacking, phishing, and malware.
Cyberattacks can be of low to high impact, but the vast majority are very basic in nature and are conducted by unskilled individuals. They are the digital version of a thief trying to infiltrate your system from the main access point.
Cyber Essentials assists organizations in improving their overall state of security by providing a framework for implementing and maintaining effective security measures.
A cyber essentials certification is a cyber security certification program that equips businesses with the tools they need to protect their systems and customer data.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) oversees the certification, which requires organizations to complete a self-assessment questionnaire covering five important technical controls, which we will discuss in another section.
Furthermore, with the basic level of protection against cyber threats, Cyber Essentials certification also helps organizations fulfill industry regulations and standards. For instance, as part of their regulatory obligations, businesses that handle sensitive information, such as financial information or personal data, may be required to show their cyber security measures.
With Cyber Essentials certification, an organization can prove that it has taken the necessary steps to protect its IT and systems.
To prevent these attacks from happening, there are 2 levels of certification, which are essential for the organization to protect themselves against the growing threat of cyber-attacks and help in declaring the basic controls that the organization should have in place to protect themselves.
-It’s a foundation-level certification.
-designed to provide a declaration of the basic controls your organization should have in place to diminish the risk from common cyber threats.
-Prevents most common attacks.
Cyber Essentials Plus
-It is the highest level of certification offered under the Cyber Essentials scheme.
-It is a more difficult test and technical verification for your organization’s cyber security systems.
-In Cyber Essentials Plus, vulnerability tests are carried out to ensure your organization is protected against common hacking and phishing attacks.
These certifications outline a focused set of controls that offers clear guidance on basic cybersecurity for organizations and provides a complete foundation of cybersecurity measures that any organization can implement with little investment.
With the implementation of 5 key controls in Cyber Essentials, organizations can protect themselves from the most common cyberattacks.
The controls for cyber essentials include:
Organizations can self-assess their compliance with the scheme. It’s mandatory to complete a questionnaire covering the five essential controls.
Once certified, organizations can display the cyber essentials logo to show their commitment to cyber security.
-According to the National Cyber Security Center, by taking the Cyber Essentials certification process into consideration and implementing even one of the five controls of Cyber Essentials, an organization can provide protection to the organization from cyberattacks up to 80%.
-As per the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 reports, the pattern and tactics of cyberattacks have changed over the past year. The cyber hackers are becoming more skilled and have evolved to a variety of counter-hacking methods.
-Assure customers that the organization is working to protect data and IT from cyber-attacks.
-Provides a clear image of the cyber security level of an organization.
-To get Government contracts, its necessary to be cyber essentials certified organization.
-Attract new business with the promise you have cyber security measures in place.
-Cyber Essentials certification specifies that an organization takes a proactive stand against malicious cyber-attacks.
The process of Cyber Essentials certification includes the following steps:
1) Preparation for the certification process
-Preparation for the certification process includes readiness for cybersecurity.
-Organizations should ensure that they have the required resources and systems in place before beginning the certification process.
-Process may include changes to existing security measures such as updating software, patching vulnerabilities, and implementing appropriate access controls.
-An overview of the system and an action plan based on the actual Cyber Essentials Questionnaire are provided.
2) Self-assessment questionnaire
-Self assessment questionnaire is the very first step to get cyber essentials certified.
-This step covers five areas of technical control (boundary firewalls and internet gateways, secure configuration, access control, malware protection, and patch management).
-Organisations are required to answer questions about their current cybersecurity measures and provide evidence to support their answers.
3) External assessment
-After the self-assessment questionnaire, an external assessment is performed.
-An independent certification body will review responses and conduct a vulnerability scan on the organization's systems.
-The certification body will then verify that the organization has fulfilled the required standards and, based on their evaluation, will award the certification.
4) Implement suggested improvements
-Any fault identified by the certification body in the organization's security measures, will be recommended for improvement.
-To keep their Cyber Essentials certification, organizations must implement these recommendations within a specific timeframe.
5) Annual certification
-Once Cyber Essentials is certified, it must be kept current by renewing it annually.
-To keep their security measures up to date and effective, organizations must take the self-assessment questionnaire and undergo a new external assessment each year.
For any organization, becoming Cyber Essentials Certified includes several costs, such as
- cost of preparing for the certification process
This may differ from organization to organization. The cost may vary depending on the size of the organization and the level of its existing security measures.
- cost of the self-assessment questionnaire and external assessment
It can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds, which also depends upon the certification body, size, and complexity of the organization.
- cost of implementing any recommended improvements
This depends upon the weakness/fault identified by the certification body, the nature of the recommendation, and the resources required to implement it. For example, implementation includes the purchase of hardware and software to strengthen the security system of the organization.
Pricing Guide provided by NCSC:
Micro organisations (0-9 employees)- £300 + VAT
Small organisations (10-49 employees)- £400 + VAT
Medium organisations (50-249 employees)- £450 + VAT
Large organisations (250+ employees)- £500 + VAT
Eventually, organizations must take the cost of maintaining their cyber essentials certification into consideration. The cost also includes the renewal of the certification each year and the implementation of necessary changes to security measures.
At last, Cyber Essentials certification plays a significant role in the overall functioning of the organization. Becoming Cyber Essentials Certified is a straightforward process if the IT infrastructure of the organization is maintained properly.
Both Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are equally beneficial in terms of cyber-attack protection; however, if your organization requires a more in-depth audit of critical controls, Cyber Essentials Plus comes in handy.
For any organization, it’s important to ensure cybersecurity practices to protect businesses against any kind of cyberattack. Hence, cybersecurity professionals play a vital role in protecting sensitive data and digital information.
With Sprintzeal cybersecurity courses, you can take your career on a progressive path. Our industry-leading training and internationally recognized certifications can help you stand out from others. Visit Sprintzeal's all-courses page for more career-enhancing courses.
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