The Cyber Essentials scheme: 10 Key benefits

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benefits of the cyber essentials scheme

The Cyber Essentials scheme helps organisations defend against cyberattacks by encouraging the adoption of best-of-breed cybersecurity practices.

No single organisation can defend against cyber threats on its own.  As a result, to reduce the risk to essential services and to deter would-be attackers, the UK Government developed and introduced the Cyber Essentials Certification Scheme.

Officially launched in June 2014, the Cyber Essentials scheme offers organisations the opportunity to certify against a UK Government sanctioned cybersecurity standard.

Presented below are the compelling benefits the Cyber Essentials scheme offers organisations.

For an introduction to the scheme, read Understanding the Cyber Essentials certification scheme.

The Cyber Threat

Threats in the form of cyberattacks seek to damage data, steal data, or generally disrupt digital life in general. Malicious software, data breaches, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are forms of cyberattacks.

Cyber threats are varied and adaptable, ranging from high volume, opportunistic attacks to highly sophisticated and persistent threats aiming to compromise specific targets. With the rise of internet-connected devices, cybercriminals have more opportunities than ever before.

Almost every cyber threat falls into one of the following three categories, based on intent:

  • Disruption
  • Espionage
  • Financial gain

In terms of attack techniques, an abundance of options are available for malicious actors.  Consequently, cyberattacks continue to evolve, with thousands of attacks every day, from a variety of places, people and contexts.

Small and medium businesses may be frustrated, worried or even confused with the complexity of the cyber threat environment.  Fortunately, organisations can protect themselves from cyber threats.

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Implementing best practices for cyber defence, such as those advised by the Cyber Essentials Scheme, is a necessary and extremely important countermeasure to cyber threats.

How does the Cyber Essentials scheme help against cyber threats?

Through five Cyber Essentials technical controls, the Cyber Essentials scheme advises what your organisation needs to do to reduce the threat of cyberattacks on your organisation.

Each of the five technical controls focuses on an aspect of your organisation’s computer systems, providing a security benchmark to measure against. Ultimately, the combination of the five technical controls serves as an extremely important countermeasure against cyber attacks.

The five Cyber Essentials technical controls are:

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Boundary firewalls and internet gateways – A firewall must in place to protect all internet-connected devices.
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Secure configuration – Secure any default settings by implementing secure configurations to prevent criminals or hackers from gaining unauthorised access to your data.
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Access control – Reduce the likelihood of unauthorised access and control, which team members can see certain data.
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Malware protection – Protect your data from viruses, malware and other threats to your organisation.
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Patch management – Regularly update your devices to identify and resolve any vulnerabilities.

Learn more about each of the five Cyber Essentials controls.

Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essentials Plus

The Cyber Essentials Scheme is often a crucial first step towards implementing organisational cyber resilience.The Cyber Essentials scheme offers two accreditation levels – Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus.

Perceptions offered by each of the two certification paths can vary, and recent changes to the scheme mean that Cyber Essentials is a pre-requisite to the Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

The diagram below provides the fundamental differences between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus.To understand the differences in-depth, also read Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essentials Plus.

benefits of cyber essentials

Ten benefits of the Cyber Essentials scheme

Gaining a Cyber Essentials certification offers assurance to your customers and suppliers that you have a baseline appreciation of cybersecurity.

While more businesses are keen to become Cyber Essentials certified, many are still not fully aware of the benefits that the Cyber Essentials certification offers.

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Presented below are the 10 key benefits for your organisation in becoming Cyber Essentials certified.

1. Protect your organisation from 80% of cyberattacks

This scheme aims to ensure that your business is protected from cyber-attacks. While no security system is 100% effective, implementing the measures based on the Cyber Essentials scheme can significantly reduce the risk of attacks.

Statistical research by the University of Portsmouth revealed that more than 80% of the cyber-attacks affecting UK businesses could have been prevented by the implementation of some basic security controls, such as those mandated by the Cyber Essentials Scheme.

By following the requirements of the Cyber Essentials scheme, businesses will be able to prevent 80% of common cyber attacks.

Having a straightforward and robust security system means that the attacks can be detected earlier enough. If they occur, the impact won’t be as devastating as what would have been experienced by not having a system in place.

benefits of cyber essentials against common threats

To bridge that final 20%, organisations can look to Security Operation Centres (SOCs) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM).  These methods rely on dedicated teams to monitor and fix security issues in real-time.

2. Become eligible to apply for Government tenders

As of 1st October 2014, Cyber Essentials is a requirement for many UK public sector contracts.  Consequently, achieving Cyber Essentials certification increases your eligibility to tender for sales into UK Government departments.

The UK Government has mandated that all its suppliers have to be compliant with the Cyber Essentials scheme where contracts include the handling of personal, sensitive information, as well as the provision of certain technical services.

Businesses operate intending to increase customers and ultimately, turnover and profitability. Being able to bid on a UK Government contract is a massive opportunity for many businesses, and all you’ll is the Cyber Essentials certificate.

Wining a UK Government contract has its apparent rewards; however, it also offers prestige, helping a business to enhance its reputation amongst its customer base.

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3. Reduce your insurance premiums

Compliance with the Cyber Essentials scheme signals that you take cybersecurity seriously and have taken proactive steps to reduce the exposure to cyber threats.

If you show that you are compliant with the scheme, i.e. by getting Cyber Essentials Plus, you are eligible for free cyber insurance. This could mean savings of up to £25,000.

Being Cyber Essentials certified automatically provides you with free Cyber Liability Insurance if your organisation:

  • Is domiciled in the UK
  • Has a turnover under £20 million
  • Is certified with an IASME certification body

4. Increase efficiency and productivity

Implementing the five security controls of the Cyber Essentials Scheme will provide you with a solid overview of your firm’s security defences, leaving your team to focus on growing your business.

The process of auditing an organisation’s internal security system is, unfortunately, not something which happens frequently enough. When did your organisation last did a comprehensive security check? When did it carry out system updates and removed user accounts that were no longer in use? Are the passwords strong, or they are still the basic ones that come with the manufacturer’s settings? How frequently do you update the passwords?

These are some of the factors that the Cyber Essentials scheme looks at. By adopting these best practices, you will uncover ineffective and stale data, settings, and possible vulnerabilities, providing the opportunity to improve efficiencies and productivity.

5. Gain respect within your industry

If you have Cyber Essentials accreditation, it means that you take your business seriously and are committed to protecting your organisation’s data. You’re showing all your partners and suppliers that you care about protecting the data being processed, managed and stored in your systems.

If you have this certification, your customers will take you seriously. This comes in handy when you deal with financial information as well as medical data. It implies that customers can trust you with their sensitive data as it means that your organisation has a higher level of data integrity.

The earlier you receive this certification, the better for your organisation’s credibility and reputation. You’ll be recognised as a secure organisation to work with, not only gaining reputation but also gaining a competitive edge in your industry.

6. Differentiate your organisation

Building on the last point, complying with the Cyber Essentials Scheme will provide you with recognised security certification to showcase to current clients and prospective clients.

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Unfortunately, despite the increased risk of cyberattacks, some organisations still don’t adopt cybersecurity best practices and are content to take on the risks.  It is highly doubtful that such organisations will be around for too long with regular data breaches.

Differentiate from the competition by showing your clients how seriously you take their data.

7. Establish trust with the vendors in your supply chain

The majority of suppliers and clients will immediately stop working with you as soon as they are made aware that their data is at risk.  By complying with the Cyber Essentials Scheme, you are showing your suppliers that they can completely trust you with their data.

8. Avoid GDPR fines

If your organisation experiences a data breach, you could be fined up to 4% of your global turnover if found negligent. With a Cyber Essentials certification, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be able to establish that you had the procedures and systems in place and had taken necessary precautions.

However, with a Cyber Essentials Plus certification, you can demonstrate to the ICO that you did everything in your power to protect the data.  This will significantly reduce the liklihood of receiving a fine.

9. Work with the MOD

As a proponent of the Cyber Essentials scheme The MOD, in conjunction with other Government security departments, strongly advocate the collective need to protect our systems and networks from hackers.

As such, becoming Cyber Essentials certified enable organisations of all sizes to meet the required cybersecurity level to win Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracts.

10. Align to the only UK Government endorsed CyberSecurity standard

Cyber Essentials Basic and Cyber Essentials Plus are the only standards that are Government-backed and help your organisation with cyber protection.

You want to show your clients that you care about your data, what better way than being aligned with the only Government-backed standards?

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