68% of large UK businesses have a cyber security strategy, representing the intimidating digital landscape that all companies are experiencing in 2023. We have previously spoken about whether ISO 27001 is better than Cyber Essentials Plus, but more recently, the conversation has also included NIST.

Choosing the best cyber security support for a business can be intimidating. In fact, 46% of security managers feel stressed by their daily tasks, which is a percentage that we think will only continue to increase over the coming months and years.

To find out the difference between Cyber Essentials Plus and NIST, to choose the best security compliance accreditation for you, keep reading.

What Is Cyber Essentials Plus?

What Is Cyber Essentials Plus?

Before we dive into the differences between these two security programmes, let’s look at their differences in detail. Let’s begin with what the Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation is.

Cyber Essentials Plus is the follow-on award from the popular Cyber Essentials programme, which promotes safe online business operations. The certificate helps to ensure that the control markers set out on the Cyber Essentials audit are fully operational. You can learn more about the differences between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus by clicking here.

This compliance measure was created with support and input from the National Cyber Security Centre. Whilst it was created in the UK, the award is internationally recognised and has been adopted by companies worldwide. One of the reasons that this is the case is because the measures are suitable for businesses of all sizes and from various sectors.

Cyber Essentials Plus takes a deeper look at the core pillars outlined in Cyber Essentials: firewalls, malware, user access, patch management, and security configuration. You can learn more about what is required for Cyber Essentials Plus here.

The award is given after external vulnerability testing, and an external moderator provides approval. This is different from the original Essentials award, which is given via self-assessment. It should also be noted that companies must hold Cyber Essentials before applying to become Cyber Essentials Plus accredited.

The cost of Cyber Essentials Plus starts from £1,650+ vat and increases as the organisation size rises.

What Is NIST?

What Is NIST?

The NIST cybersecurity framework is a set of security measures published by the US government by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Created to help companies structure their cybersecurity models, just like Cyber Essentials Plus, the framework offers a set of standards, guidelines, and proven best practices that can help businesses of all sizes.

Each of the standards and guidelines is implemented and managed by the compliance standards’ five key functions: to identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. The structure can be applied to any cyber security risk and allows companies to structure their contingency planning strategies via tasks proven to make a difference.

The main aim is to help companies from all sectors understand what risks look like and have the power to manage the fight and recover via their available resources. Pricing to be assessed by NIST is again calculated based on company size, but the cost tends to range between $5,000 and $30,000.

How Are Cyber Essentials Plus and NIST Different?

Compliance vs Risk Management

Cyber Essentials Plus is a security compliance certificate, whereas NIST is a risk management framework. This may not mean much if you are new to digital security management, but we can assure you they are both different elements.

Security compliance is a set of processes and tools that ensure a company maintains a resilient approach to cyber risks. The pillars outlined in Cyber Essentials Plus recommend the areas a business needs to invest in to have a successful and impenetrable defence against malicious activity.

Risk management refers to the process that can be followed to highlight and resolve any issues that could threaten cyber security operations. Although the steps are provided that can be undertaken to achieve safety, the tools to do so still need to be incorporated into the process.

Coverage of Activity

Although the NIST may seem much broader than Cyber Essentials Plus, that shouldn’t be looked at negatively.

The process outlined by NIST is designed to support cyber security but can also be adopted on a broader scale to cover other areas of digital activity. The detection and resolution phase is also an element that Cyber Essentials Plus does not directly include, as the intention with the latter is that the processes in place should be enough to prevent issues.

In this sense, it is easy to see how both measures differ and could be used in conjunction if a business wishes to do so.

Different Assessment Process

Both programmes are assessed independently, but NIST takes longer to process as it requires a more complex audit programme. The areas chosen to test can also be more diverse than Cyber Essentials Plus, just testing the five pillars in action from a vulnerability perspective.

How Do I Choose Between Cyber Essentials Plus and NIST?

In our opinion, both cyber security measures can be used in different ways, which is the best way to understand how they could work for your company.

Cyber Essentials Plus is a great option if your business doesn’t have any processes in place. Not only does it require a business to implement robust security tools, but it also means that all security breaches are covered. The human side is also considered more, as employee interaction and user testing are included. This is great if your company has also become Cyber Essentials approved and wants to ensure the processes are as robust as possible within different markets.

NIST is a good option if you already have the tools and processes figured out, but the area your company lacks relates to the recovery phase. Cyber Essentials Plus gives you the tools to reduce risk, whereas NIST is the process of resolving any problems.

With any security compliance measure, it is important to assess a company’s current performance to understand where they are lacking. This will help you make the decision regarding which option to adopt.

What Are the Benefits of Cyber Essentials Plus vs NIST?

Another factor that can help decision making is to consider the main benefits of both security measures which are as follows:

Benefits of Cyber Essentials Plus:

  • It is tailored to global businesses with standards that everyone can adopt easily.
  • Encourage companies to consider which programmes and platforms will offer the best resilience for them.
  • Affordable and easy to obtain if Cyber Essentials has already been achieved.
  • Internationally known and recognised.
  • Created by the UK government but is representative of many other territories’ requirements.
  • Features external vulnerability testing, which doesn’t just ensure the processes are in place but tests them to ensure full functionality.

Benefits of NIST:

  • NIST offers an unbiased process effective for all business types within various sectors.
  • Facilitates growth in all areas of business even though the main element is cyber security.
  • All stakeholders can also adopt the framework as its a method of resolving issues, not the initial implementation of processes and tools.
  • The process is timeless, can be adopted by anyone, and still offers relevance.

How Can Creative Networks Help Me With Security Compliance?

The global cost of data breaches was $4.35 million in 2022. We are sure everyone will agree that the price is also much higher than just financials, with company data and employee safety also put at risk when attacks occur.

At Creative Networks, we have made it our mission to offer security services that we are passionate about. That is why we offer Cyber Essentials Plus and a host of other security measures. Our team is also clued up on the entire security sector, meaning that we can still advise you even if we don’t offer a service.

Now is the best time to act before the risks increase, so contact us today to learn more.

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