Cyber Essentials: Does my business really need it?

We all know that we live in a digital world these days, and there are many different facets to this. One of the most important things to consider is cyber security and ensuring that you have the correct management of this in place.

The number of cyber-attacks on businesses is increasing, with 39% being subjected to it in the UK last year alone. Cyber Essentials certification is one way for businesses to stay on top of their risks and help protect their business and their customers.

Cyber-attacks are not just the focus of big business, and cyber criminals now reach all sizes of business, looking for weaknesses in their security. These attacks usually look to bring down a network or to steal or delete data in some way.

This can all be extremely damaging to any business, so audits of what level of risk you face and what you can do about it are now seen as essential.

Cyber Essentials

Cyber Essentials is a government-backed form of certification that was launched in June 2014 and aims to reduce cyber vulnerability. It gives businesses a full plan of what controls are needed to offer the greatest protection against cyber-attacks. It works in collaboration with the Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises (IAMSE) and the Information Security Forum (ISF), and is now also backed by the Federation of Small businesses and the CBI.

The Cyber Essentials certification requires self-assessment and a subsequent external review and gives a good foundation of basic security. However, if you are looking for a more thorough process, the Cyber Essentials Plus audit further protects against threats such as phishing and hacking and requires system tests to carried out by an external body.

In order to pass the certification you will need to be able to demonstrate that your devices, software and internet connections are all secure, as well as showing that you control the access to your data and that your devices and software are all up to date and protected from viruses and malware.

Do I need Cyber Essentials certification?

For some businesses this is a choice, whilst others will find that it is mandatory for them to hold Cyber Essentials certification. This is the case if you are looking to secure public sector contracts. It is also required by all organisations working with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and most local authorities.

For those who are not legally required to hold Cyber Essentials certification, it can still be beneficial. It protects against 80% of the most common cyber-attacks and gives you and your clients peace of mind that your data and sensitive information is better protected. This can give you a real competitive edge amongst others in your sector and is great for furthering the reputation of your business.

Business owners with this certification now have a clearer understanding of where the risks to their businesses lie and can receive expert guidance in setting up the correct security controls. You can also benefit from £25,000 cyber breach insurance if you have a turnover of less than £20 million or reduced premiums for businesses above this threshold.

The cost of becoming Cyber Essentials certified is just £300 per year, which is far less than the results of any cyber-attacks that might be headed your way.

Cyber Essentials is becoming a popular choice for businesses in every sector. Understanding your cyber risks and doing all you can to prevent them is essential and will stand you and your business in good stead both now and into the future.