If you are looking at creating a robust cyber security toolkit, you are sure to have come across the ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus awards.

With cyber security being a high priority for 82% of senior managers, it is highly recommended that all businesses choose a form of online security compliance to help ensure safe operations. Highlighting the need for compliance is just the first step, as organisations must select the right security tools for their company.

Whilst both options improve cyber security and overall resilience, they offer a few distinctions that make them suitable for slightly different types of businesses.

Is ISO 27001 better than Cyber Essentials Plus? Keep reading to find out.

Why is Security Compliance Important?

Before we deep dive into the ongoing argument as to which award is better, let’s just look at why security compliance is an essential tool to invest in.

Whichever way you look, cyber security is high-risk for all companies. Whether you are entirely cloud-based, rely on digital processes, or have minimal digital tools, the risks are apparent across the board. For this reason, 66% of companies say that security compliance directs their IT spending.

The steps outlined within compliance awards have been expertly defined to ensure that companies can safely operate with minimised risks.

Other reasons that adopting some form of security compliance is important are the following:

  • Adhering to security compliance measures will save your company money in the long run. Not only do insurance companies look at this as a desirable business factor, but you will also have a better chance of avoiding security fines associated with successful breaches.
  • Businesses can adopt better processes that benefit departments across the entire company. Operating with transparency is vital for confident trading. This also allows companies to improve profits and competitiveness.
  • Stronger and safer data management can be adopted.
  • Customer and supplier trust is also enhanced by being security compliant. Demonstrating the correct processes and a willingness to invest in safe operations shows that a company truly cares about cyber security.

What is Cyber Essentials Plus?

Cyber Essentials Plus is the secondary phase of the popular Cyber Essentials programme.

Launched by the UK government but available for global companies, Cyber Essentials Plus is an accreditation awarded to fully proficient businesses in cyber security. It is also supported and updated by the National Cyber Security Centre, highlighting the processional reach that the award has gained.

Cyber Essentials Plus was created as a more hands-on approach to managing the essential’s status as it covers all forms of internal security and involves passing an external vulnerability test. The award is also only provided by an auditor representing the higher levels of adherence needed.

The certificate covers firewalls, user control, security software, patch management, and malware protection. This shows that it is designed largely to offer support to users, offering ways to manage security threats daily.

Whilst Cyber Essentials Plus is not mandatory in the UK, due to its recognition amongst private sector companies, it is recommended that all companies invest in achieving the award.

What is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 (Information Security) is an internationally recognised certificate of excellence in Information Security Management.

As with the essentials plus, ISO 27001 focuses on all aspects of cyber security but expands on the areas covered further to consider people, processes, and technology. With more of a focus on assets, ISO 27001 is a popular choice regarding data management and reducing cyber security spending.

ISO 27001 can be seen as the string that pulls together each department’s activity to improve the safety of data and information as it is being interacted with. Businesses with this accreditation can work more confidently by promoting a constant awareness of Information Security Management Systems. The parameters are also ideal for hybrid working companies, which are more likely to experience data violations due to various networks that could be used.

What Award is Better?

What Award is Better?

We don’t mean to play devil’s advocate, but we wouldn’t say that one award is better at Creative Networks. Instead, we believe that both ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus can benefit companies in different ways depending on the operations that they are focusing on.

Cyber Essentials Plus is a UK-awarded certificate that the government has developed. Whilst it is available for global companies, it should be noted that it was primarily created to benefit UK companies. For this reason, many of the measures included are perfectly aligned with current risks within the country. This doesn’t mean that the content is irrelevant for international companies, but it offers more advantages for UK organisations. It is also a certification that is often requested during the UK tendering process as being a vital certification to hold, making it more relevant for local companies.

ISO 27001 is an international award at its core, meaning that it offers more benefits for larger or global companies. Along with being more expensive and slightly harder to achieve, it is designed to help structure more developed companies in terms of processes and personnel. It can be applied to smaller companies but does have the best results when rolled out on a larger scale. ISO 27001 also exceeds the Essentials certificate’s traditional security measures, which is important for more developed organisations.

What are the Differences Between 1SO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus?

We have already outlined some ways these awards differ to help you make an informed decision. The following variations may also be a deciding factor when choosing between ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus.

Staff Interaction

The ISO 27001 accreditation requires much more investment for teams as it covers company-wide processes. This is ideal if your company operates transparently, as it will ensure the compliance elements become intrinsically linked to daily operations.

With Cyber Essentials Plus, the security aspects are slightly less far-reaching, meaning that ongoing support and internal audits from anyone apart from the IT lead should not be required whilst compliance is needed.

Business Operations Coverage

 ISO 27001 covers all departments and therefore wider processes. This could include elements outside of traditional IT management such as other departments third-party software, sales processes, and marketing tracking links to name just a few.

Time to Achieve

The company must hold the original Cyber Essentials certification to be eligible for a Cyber Essentials Plus award. This is because the areas of compliance build upon the solid foundation created during this process.

To achieve the Plus award, an external vulnerability test and auditor visit must occur. This means that considering all aspects, you are looking at a couple of months to achieve both statuses. You will also need at least three months of your Essentials certificate left, which sometimes dictates the timeframe for companies.

ISO 27001 is more in-depth and requires multiple audits before passing is possible, so this process can take between six to twelve months. The larger the company, the more time this will take, but the certificate lasts three years compared to the one year Cyber Essentials Plus offers.


Cyber Essentials Plus will cost between £1650 to £4150 depending on company size.

ISO 27001 costs between £6250 to £33,750 depending on company size.

How Do I Gain ISO 27001 or Cyber Essentials Plus?

How Do I Gain ISO 27001 or Cyber Essentials Plus?

The best way to get your business certified is by working with a professional IT agency to ensure a fast pass.

Our services at Creative Networks involve running audits of the current situation, implementing the processes needed to be compliant, helping manage the application process, and providing long-term support to ensure ongoing adherence.

By working with us, you can reduce the risk of a failed application, saving your company time and money.

Contact us today to learn more and start your journey to professional compliance success.

You can also learn more about our Cyber Essentials Plus service and our ISO 27001 service by clicking here.

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