18 Aug Diving Into Cyber Essentials: The Benefits of Certification and How to Get Started
In our last piece, we introduced the Cyber Essentials scheme and the five key controls that are used to assess an organisation’s cyber security foundation. In this piece, we delve into the range of benefits of getting Cyber Essentials certification and give more guidance on how to get started with implementing the five key controls.
The Benefits of Cyber Essentials Certification
Obtaining Cyber Essentials certification offers organisations numerous benefits that includes but also goes beyond security. These benefits can help your business grow and satisfy your compliance obligations. Here are five key benefits that Cyber Essentials certification can offer:
Of course, the scheme can offer a sturdy foundation for your business’s cyber security posture which will offer protection against the majority of cyber threats at play today. The cybersecurity benefits are wide-ranging, empowering the prevention of malicious access and damage to your network, the mitigation of any potential damage in the event of access, as well as procedures that help your business to respond effectively after an incident.
A More Cyber Secure Culture
In pursuing and implementing the five key controls, businesses can empower their employees with more awareness of cyber threats and the best practices for addressing them. Users can form a formidable last line of defence against many threats. By pursuing certification, you can lower the chances of user errors and user-caused security breaches, as well as mitigate their effects.
Cyber Essentials certification reflects your dedication to cybersecurity best practice, enhancing your business’s reputation and credibility. As a valuable form of social proof, clients, partners, and stakeholders will be able to formally recognise your proactive efforts to protect their data.
The enhanced reputation and social proof can sharpen your competitive edge, especially if your business bids for government contracts which increasingly stipulate certification as a tendering requirement. As Cyber Essentials can be a deciding factor in making buying decisions, having certification can help your business to secure more clients and contracts.
Cyber Essentials helpfully aligns with data protection regulations and laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018(DPA). The certification process will help your business build and assure a compliant foundation for the protection of data. Of course, this is a foundation, so implementing Cyber Essentials should not be taken alone as an assurance of compliance.
In all, obtaining Cyber Essentials certification enables these benefits because it contributes to a safer digital environment for your organisation and the wider commercial ecosystem.
5 Steps to Implementing Cyber Essentials
Implementing Cyber Essentials involves several important steps. Here’s a breakdown of the process:
Map Your IT Environment
To see where you are, begin by mapping your IT territory. This includes devices, applications and your users. With this information in hand, you will be able to document your IT environment for the certification process and begin to find gaps and actionable areas that can be addressed along each of the key controls. For example, you may find that not all user devices have antivirus installed, or that some devices are running outdated or unnecessary applications.
Implement the necessary controls.
Implement the requirements of each of the five key Cyber Essentials controls: secure configuration, boundary firewalls and internet gateways, user access control, patch management, and malware protection.
You will need to customise these principles to fit the specific context and characteristics of your organisation. If you would like a hand understanding how to implement the five key controls, you can reach out to us for a no-obligation chat.
Documentation and evidence
For Cyber Essentials, you will need to document your IT environment and your implementation of each of the five key controls to gain certification. For Cyber Essentials plus, this will involve a practical assessment of your network by an external expert.
Maintain comprehensive records of the security measures, policies, and the procedures you have implemented. These include the user access controls you have in place, documentation of your firewall solution and its configuration, as well as patch management processes that ensure the latest updates for your devices and applications are being regularly rolled out.
Conduct internal assessments.
As part of the verification process and documentation assessment, regular internal assessments will need to be factored in. This ensures that the five key controls are being maintained and that they are evolving with your business.
Implement regular reviews and verification of the five key controls across your network, applications, and IT policies. Take care to document these as well. You can use an external provider, such as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to undertake these assessments for you and to test your cyber security posture using techniques such as vulnerability scans.
Obtain Cyber Essentials certification.
Now that you have taken the key steps towards being eligible for certification, you can engage with a certification body that is authorised by the UK Government to validate your adherence to the Cyber Essentials framework. These certification bodies will review your documentation, assess your security controls, and conduct audits to verify your compliance. You can also get support from an IT support provider with the process before implementing the five key controls, which can enable you to undergo the process with greater assurance and peace of mind.
Once your organisation successfully meets the requirements, you will be awarded with the Cyber Essentials certification! This certification will need to be renewed annually, so it’s important to maintain and evolve the five key controls to ensure continuous security for your organisation.
In an era where cyber threats continue to evolve and grow in sophistication, organisations must prioritise cyber security. Cyber Essentials offers a practical and effective framework to establish a strong foundation of security controls. By delving deeper into Cyber Essentials, understanding its core principles, and taking proactive steps to implement it, you can significantly enhance your organisation’s ability to defend against cyber threats. Remember, investing in cyber security today is an investment in the future stability and success of your organisation.