Cyber security accounted for an average of 9.9% of IT budgets in 2022. This IT element’s importance is further enhanced by the fact that 96% of executives say that cyber security reliance is their highest priority.

Understanding the main issues is only the first part of the battle. Knowing how to develop safe online practices is vital for sustained digital safety. That is one of the main reasons why the National Cyber Security Centre created the Cyber Essential accreditation. 

The benefits are undeniably plentiful, but is this accreditation a nice or mandatory certification? Continue reading to find out. 

Who is the Cyber Essentials Certification For?

Cyber Essentials was launched in 2014 as a government-backed scheme to help organisations protect themselves against online cyber threats. The scheme was carefully crafted around the five core pillars that are believed to help companies stay safe. Unique as it is suitable for companies of all sizes and from varying sectors, the certification is designed to promote a best practice regarding the measures that should be adopted for secure online practices. 

The tools included within Cyber Essentials have the power to protect businesses against 80% of the most common forms of cyber-attacks. Furthermore, the visibility and knowledge that the scheme offers also improve the chances of companies being able to define the other threats that would typically make up the remaining 20%.

With an aim to promote cyber security amongst entire industries, the scheme has been created to be achievable by all companies, no matter their budget, operating size, or level of IT expertise. The cost to become Cyber Essentials certified starts from £300, which is low compared to many other compliance awards. For this reason, any micro-to-global companies can hopefully invest in achieving this level of security conformity. 

The Creative Networks case studies showcase the various companies that have taken on the Cyber Essentials certification as we have worked to support various businesses in achieving their security goals. 

When is Having Cyber Essentials Mandatory?

Despite the high levels of success that Cyber Essentials can bring to a business, the scheme is optional. However, for companies that are looking to bid for particular work, it is a mandatory certification to have in place. 

Suppose you plan on bidding for most Government contracts. In that case, you will need to be Cyber Essentials certified. There are also other certain contracts, such as ones that deal with high levels of sensitive data, that will stipulate that a business has to hold a Cyber Essentials licence before they can tender for work. 

In cases when personal information is being handled, Cyber Essentials is preferred as it provides an additional layer of security to stop data from being accessed. With hackers targeting personal data, the need for this security only continues to increase. Cyber Essentials also allows companies to demonstrate a professional IT and business performance level, which is also favourable when applying for new contracts. As an internally recognised badge of excellence, organisations holding this certification can authentically market themselves as a cyber-safe option. 

Another scenario in which Cyber Essentials may be mandatory is if extensive work is due to take place over the cloud. Cloud services are vital for carrying out most tasks in the modern working world, but this brings many risks. In fact, 45% of breaches are cloud-based. Considering this risk, having the measures in place that Cyber Essentials requires indicates to prospective clients that a company is set up in a way which will lessen risks. 

Finally, many financial companies will require third-party agencies to be Cyber Essentials holders. This is again due to the sensitive nature of the data that is handled and the requirement to use additional, industry-specific software. 

While the work your business wants to do may not require a Cyber Essentials certificate, we recommend that every company invests in the training. For modest financial and time-based investment, a company can improve its overall cyber safety and widen its network of clients and suppliers immensely. 

What are the Business Benefits of Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials does not just enable bidding on specific contracts and provides many other significant benefits to companies. 

  • The scheme implements the processes to prevent, define, and resolve all cyber threats. This is important as cyber breaches will come in many forms, so being set up to catch and fix these is essential for pro-longed business safety. It is also not always possible to prevent issues completely, but Cyber Essentials ensures that companies can resolve the problem without a detrimental impact if companies are affected. 
  • A Cyber Essentials certificate is often made possible thanks to an IT specialist agency. The future of IT outsourcing represents a prevalence for companies investing in support from IT teams to facilitate cyber-safe operations. This also means that a strong working relationship can be established with a provider that can also improve other areas of an IT network.
  • Cyber Essentials certified companies are also included on the NSCS database, improving visibility, domain authority, and SEO. 
  • As Cyber Essentials is also available to organisations outside the UK, the brand awareness for compliant companies can be greatly enhanced. This means that when applying for contracts with international companies, the Cyber Essentials badge represents the same level of security compliance. Reducing the need to have other forms of security compliance paid for offers a cost-effective way for businesses to advertise themselves in more comprehensive marketplaces. 
  • Cyber Essentials requires ongoing measures to be in place even after achieving the status. This improves not just the robustness of the cyber security elements of an IT infrastructure but also the additional elements. Cyber Essentials can improve the overall operating efficiency of an entire company by offering many other benefits to other departments. 
  • Supply chain security is also showcased, which will appeal to new clients, employees, and customers. 
  • The chance of securing new business is also enhanced as Cyber Essentials positively impacts reputation by showing that online safety is paramount to the company in question. With online safety being a concern for many, working with a company that promotes a clear understanding will appeal to many. 

What Aspects of Cyber Security Does Cyber Essentials Manage?

Cyber Essentials is based on five core pillars that create cyber-secure working conditions for companies. The following elements have been highlighted as the most integral to ensuring cyber protection.

Firewalls Designed to protect against incoming and outgoing data, a firewall is essential for any company using digital programmes. Creative Networks can help companies implement robust firewalls via our IT support services and bespoke security operation centres. With cybercriminals having the tools to penetrate 93% of company networks, intelligent firewall solutions are essential to any company’s security plans. 

User Control Ensuring that employees and third-party contacts are not exposing a company to danger is another critical component. User controls relate to the access and usability of IT networks, including every element from the passwords used to access daily activities such as reading emails. We provide user awareness training as an additional layer of training that can help teams work safely and confidently online.

Security Software These are the tools that facilitate most forms of protection, so having robust mechanisms is a determining factor in achieving Cyber Essentials status.

Patch Management This protects against any access made via third party programmes. By forming an additional layer of security associated with retrieving information, companies can demonstrate the security associated with the data they are responsible for holding. 

Malware Protection Malware breaches can result in a loss of data and control. 

What are the Steps for Obtaining a Cyber Essentials Certificate?

Companies can achieve the status on their own or with the support of a managed service provider. Whilst both options are available, we recommend that a professional IT agency is an approach to improve the speed at which the certification can be achieved and the chance of success. 

  1. Firstly, a company needs to carry out a full security risk assessment. This will highlight the work that needs to be done to meet the various compliance factors and showcase the vulnerabilities a business currently has. Even if you were not looking to become Cyber Essentials certified, this activity is important to carry out regularly. 
  2. Work then needs to be done to resolve any issues and reduce risks. 
  3. A self-assessment is then carried out, which needs to be signed by a board member of that applying company. 
  4. The IASME consortium then needs to be approached for submission of the assessment. Results can take a few days, and if additional verification is needed, you will be informed at this time. 

If you are successful, a Cyber Essentials certificate is valid for 12 months before the process needs to be completed again. 

Become Cyber Essentials Certified with Creative Networks

There are many benefits of choosing Creative Networks as your trusted IT support agency. The main one being that we are Cyber Essentials experts with full experience of managing cyber security.

To find out how we can help you achieve Cyber Essentials status, click here.

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