A Lot has changed in the past decade in the world of cyber risks as malicious attempts to access sensitive information continue to become more prominent and intelligent. In 2014, 24% of UK companies experienced a cyber breach or attempt, which has risen to 39% as of 2022.
With many industries having undertaken a digital transformation and the world becoming more reliant on virtual business due to recent events, the need to maintain robust cybersecurity measures is undeniable.
Cyber Essentials is a form of security compliance that many businesses implement due to its vast coverage and dynamic approach to safety. We have shared lots of content via our blog about Cyber Essentials, but today, we are chatting about when it started and why.
Keep reading to find out!
What Is the History of Cyber Essentials?
Cyber Essentials was launched in 2014 by the National Cyber Security Centre. In June of 2014; the scheme quickly picked up positive notoriety for its impact on businesses of all sizes. This was reflected in the UK government’s decision to make it compulsory for all their bidding suppliers to be certified from the 1st of October 2014.
Cyber Essentials Plus was also launched to continue the positive measures put into place via the basic level of the award. A company must be Cyber Essentials certified to become Cyber Essentials Plus, so the scheme levels both go hand-in-hand.
The main difference is that Cyber Essentials requires self-certification, which can be audited if the governing body wishes. The Plus certification considers vulnerability testing, so it does need external auditing before a pass can be achieved.
As of 2023, there are more than 35,000 UK-based Cyber Essentials certifications, with many more companies from overseas also choosing to undertake the process. This represents that the scheme will continue to go from strength to strength, which we are thoroughly behind as an organisation.
How Were the Pillars of Cyber Essentials Chosen?
One of the reasons that Cyber Essentials has proven popular is that the security pillars are relevant across various company sizes and sectors. They aim to cover all areas where threats could be apparent by integrating positive processes into company strategies.
The five pillars of which Cyber Essentials is based upon are as follows:
- Creation of firewalls
Designed to protect against incoming and outgoing data, a firewall is essential for any company using digital programmes. Since 2014, firewalls have been one of the major security controls a company can have in place, and although their complexity has been enhanced during this time, they are just as effective as ever.
Cyber Essentials demands that strong firewalls be in place and used correctly in a way that is agile and able to move with changing risks and threats.
- User control.
This involves teaching companies how to encourage employees and third-party suppliers to use digital solutions more wisely.
Hackers will try any method of entering a company’s information, with one of the most common ways being through employees. By educating staff to depict threats and rectify them correctly, businesses stand to have a much higher level of protection.
- Secure software.
Companies must also ensure that internal and external programmes meet the strict compliance standards to protect company data. A regular testing process should be in place as well as a set of criteria which all new software tools should pass in order to be certified as safe to work with.
- Malware protection for all users.
This pillar involves providing support against breaches made through software tools such as email networks. Effective malware systems should be in place, and each staff member should know how they work.
- Patch management.
Last but not least is patch management which protects against any access that may be made via third party programmes, which we know are essential for all business forms.
Again, the correct systems should be in place and an awareness across the business of how they work is essential to ensure they are constantly providing vital cyber security support.
Is Cyber Essentials Still Relevant for the Risks That Companies Face in 2023?
In our opinion, yes it is!
One of the great things about Cyber Essentials is that updates are regularly published which highlights the NCSC’s awareness of changing cyber risks. Each year updates are chosen based on trends and previous client feedback to ensure the scheme is providing the high level of support that it was designed to create almost a decade ago.
The most recent Cyber Essentials updates were released in April 2023 and are reflective of the main issues that businesses are facing in the modern day. A snapshot of some of these changes were as follows:
- The definition of ‘software’ has been updated to clarify where firmware is apparent, as many companies use this as a tool.
- The ‘Device unlocking’ section has been updated to reflect that some vendors have restrictions on device configuration, especially within the workplace.
- A clarification on including third-party devices by an organisation was also included to reflect the hybrid working world we find ourselves in.
- Several style and language changes have been made, and questions have been reworded to simplify the process for international clients choosing to adopt the scheme.
- The technical controls have been reordered to align with the self-assessment question set, making the overall application process much more attainable and easier to conduct.Another reason for this is that many people often ask how they can pass Cyber Essentials for the first time which shows the interest that the scheme has.
Is Cyber Essentials Globally Recognised?
Cyber Essentials is indeed globally recognised, making it a popular scheme for people worldwide to align with. The initial goal was to support companies within the UK, but the scheme has gained international interest due to its all-encompassing control measures.
It should also be noted that being Cyber Essentials certified in the UK is not compulsory. Still, it is beneficial as companies increasingly consider this a way to assess the quality of another business, product, or service.
What Are the Benefits of Cyber Essentials?
Are you still contemplating if Cyber Essentials is worth having? Check out these benefits to help you decide:
Adhering to cyber essentials proves that a company has the underlying performance indicators that make them a solid choice to work with. Companies can also bid for any form of contract, no matter how data-driven the work is deemed to be.
For a business wanting to operate globally, cyber essentials mean that even if a particular country has increased jeopardy, the overall security risks are not raised. This is because robust processes are in place which highlight any issues and resolve them promptly.
Improve Brand Image
Cyber Essentials means that a company is compliant with all industry regulations and aware of the responsibilities that they have. This offers a positive brand image which customers, suppliers and prospective employees will appreciate.
12 Months of Protection
Upon achieving Cyber Essentials, you have 12 months of the award to benefit from. The process is also simple if you wish to retain the status as companies simply re-apply via the self-certification that they did initially. As the measures are already in place, this process should be speedy and simple.
The price to become Cyber Essentials certified starts from just £300+vat depending on company size. You can learn more in our blog about how much the process costs by clicking here. This is the price for the application so if you do fail Cyber Essentials, you will just need to pay again.
How Can a Company Become Cyber Essentials Certified?
Are you ready to find out how you can get the Cyber Essentials accreditation?