What does planning for success look like for your business? For many companies, having a strategy that underpins operations is seen as the norm. However, with 60 – 90% of strategic plans never fully launching, perhaps direction is lacking from many organisations’ plans.

This article will explore how compliance certifications offer companies a method to track success and implement frameworks that make a genuine difference. Thanks to their global awareness, ISO certifications have long been regarded as the most well-known way to achieve this. However, the UK-founded Cyber Essentials award is also an option chosen by many.

Are Cyber Essentials and ISO 22301 two of the same forms of security compliance measures, or do they both hold unique properties that shape operations differently? Keep on reading to find out!

What Is The Cyber Essentials Award?

Cyber Essentials was launched in 2014 as a way for organisations to guard themselves against cyber attacks. The scheme consists of five core pillars: firewalls, secure configurations, access control, malware protection, and patch management. When all are configured and used effectively, these tools can educate teams, inform decision-making, and allow a strong cyber security strategy to be implemented.

This compliance measure was created with support and input from the National Cyber Security Centre and is supported by the UK government. One of the reasons that Cyber Essentials has proved popular in recent years is also due to the secondary accreditation that is available, Cyber Essentials Plus.

Whilst the measures remain the same for both awards, the plus certification assessed external vulnerabilities via a different auditing process. This is designed to emulate a real-life cyber attack, giving companies a view of whether their security measures will likely keep operations safe.

What Does ISO 22301 Cover?

ISO 22301 is an international award focused on the security and resilience of business continuity management systems.

The compliance standard offers a framework by which business continuity can be set up and managed for long-term success. One of the main goals is to safeguard against threats and disruptions that could cause operations to be pushed off course. As with all forms of ISO compliance implementation, ISO 22301 also requires detailed planning, which means that although business continuity is the main purpose, other aspects of business operations are also improved.

The Differences and Similarities Between ISO 22301 and Cyber Essentials?

The Differences and Similarities Between ISO 22301 and Cyber Essentials?

As you can gather from the overviews that we have shared, both of these accreditations operate in a way that protects a business against cyber threats. However, the processes and tools do fluctuate, which we will outline in the following differentiating factors:

Global Awareness

The first main difference is the notoriety both awards have associated with them.

ISO is an internationally recognised body, which means that the 22301 award does have more market awareness than Cyber Essentials. The ISO standard is also relevant and observed in all regions. On the flip side, Cyber Essentials is a UK-relevant award. Some other regions recognise the certification, but it is not usually formally regarded in areas other than the UK.


Both ISO 22301 and Cyber Essentials have a role to play in cyber security.

Cyber Essentials is purely focused on giving companies the five elements of the framework needed to create a robust defence against malicious activity. The tools are designed to be scalable and adapt to different needs over time. While they can assist slightly in resolving issues by providing data insights, they are not designed to offer a business continuity resolution plan.

ISO 22301 focused on implementing similar tools and frameworks but went one step further to develop a defined process for dealing with security breaches. As the next step from ISO 27001, this award requires companies to look at resilience planning and prevention. Should an incident occur, it also has a role to plan in providing the mechanisms needed for complete issue resolution.

Both cover cyber security planning and awareness, but ISO 22301 goes one step further to provide the measures needed to protect a business should a breach occur.

Awarding Process and Fees

Another difference that sets the two certifications apart is the awarding process.

Cyber Essentials costs £300+ VAT, which is a price that increases in line with company size and employee count. This cost covers a 12-month certification. To start the process, you should ideally select a professional IT agency that can guide you through everything. Cyber Essentials is also self-assessed, so a company-wide understanding of the measures is important to be able to showcase. If you want to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus, an external audit takes place to assess suitability.

ISO 22301 can cost anywhere from £3,000 to north of £20,000, depending on company size and turnover. The awarding process consists of both internal and external audits, with the final certification being issued by an official agency. Once achieved, the certification is valid for three years and is maintained via a series of internal audits. When the certification period ends, the award must be applied again with the same processes followed.

ISO 22301 requires a much more in-depth integration of security measures that impact each part of a business. This means it can also take longer to achieve, requiring more time and cost investment from all stakeholders.

However, one thing that remains the same for both is that the awards require some form of auditing, which means correctly implementing the measures is essential. This means enhanced cybersecurity can be measured for businesses with either award.

Does My Business Need Cyber Essentials And ISO 22301?

Do you need both accreditations? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to have all bases covered!

Cyber Essentials is great for smaller companies or newer organisations looking to take the first steps into safe online operations. The cost is lower, but there are some added responsibilities if you want to meet the same level of operating safety as ISO 22301. However, with the right team members and support from an IT agency, complete online safety can be achieved.

ISO 22301 benefits larger, more established businesses that work in multiple regions with various stakeholders. The process of managing is more complex, but the rewards can also be experienced across an entire business, making the reach of the award a bit greater than Cyber Essentials.

However, we think both are great options, so contact our team if you want advice on which one to choose!

What Benefits Do Both Cyber Essentials and ISO 22301 Offer?

What Benefits Do Both Cyber Essentials and ISO 22301 Offer?
  • Improved brand image as companies with either award represent themselves as cyber-secure and aware organisations. This will appeal to many stakeholders and send a clear message to potential hackers.
  • Being cyber resilient can lower the budget needed for potential risk management and damage resolution, making for a healthier cash cycle.
  • The structures of both certifications also impact the wider business, making for more positive changes to company culture. Individuals who feel more informed and in control will work more confidently.
  • Lastly, both certifications are recognised by many different bodies and sectors worldwide, meaning the compliance measures can be used in situations such as insurance claims or tender management. Adhering to one of the standards shows that operations are strategically planned and carried out as safely as possible.

How Can Creative Networks Support With Compliance Certifications?

If you want to know why we are perfectly suited to aid with both Cyber Essentials and ISO 22301 awards, just check out this page to learn who we are. Cyber safety is embedded in everything that we do, which has been instilled as a genuine passion for everyone by our leadership team.

By starting your journey today, you are giving your business the best chance of defending itself against future cyber risks. Contact us to find out more or book a consultation with our team.

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