Why a Cyber Essentials Certification is essential to your business 

The world of cyber security is constantly changing and becoming more complex. The threats are also growing in number, sophistication, and impact. As enterprises adopt digital transformation to drive innovation and customer engagement, the risks and vulnerabilities for cyber attacks also increase.  

Organisations need to ensure that their systems, hardware, processes and policies are up to date and being adhered to by employees. When any of these fail or do not meet minimum security requirements, your organisation becomes an attractive option for cyber criminals.  

Organisations need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to defend against cyber attacks, maintain data privacy, detect intrusions, and recover from incidents when they do happen.  

A Cyber Essentials certification demonstrates that an organisation has the foundational knowledge of essential cybersecurity practices required of every employee in a company. Getting your organisation certified can help minimise risk, improve efficiency, reduce cost, protect sensitive data more effectively and streamline communications throughout your organisation – all without sacrificing productivity or performance.  

What is Cyber Essentials? 

Cyber Essentials is a framework published by the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to help organisations reduce the risk of cyber attacks. It includes a set of 12 controls that businesses can adopt to increase the resilience of their cyber security posture. The controls are grouped into four categories: People, Processes, Technology, and the Physical Environment. 

Although there are some sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, many attacks are considered basic and are carried out by opportunistic cyber hackers rather than skilled individuals. In a way, Cyber Essentials is the equivalent of everyday physical security like locking doors. 

Understanding the current cybersecurity threat landscape 

In order to build a robust cyber defence strategy, you need to understand the biggest threats to your organisation, and even in your organisation. 

According to the 2022 cyber security incentives and regulation review, it’s clear that as organisations rely more and more on digital technologies, they will always be at risk from both malicious and accidental cyber incidents without the right protection in place.  

In fact, these cyber security plans need to be adaptable and evolve as technology evolves; it’s a risk to let it become stagnant not only for your organisation, but for your partners, customers and suppliers. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 found  that only 12% of organisations formally reviewed the cyber risks of immediate suppliers and the survey also noted that stakeholders do not do enough to find out the state of cyber security landscape in the organisations they invest in.  

Currently, the biggest threats to your organisation right now include, amongst other things, cyber criminals taking advantage of many organisations moving to remote working models.  

This includes taking advantage of your employee’s knowledge gaps when it comes to understanding when an email may not be safe to open, or a link may not be safe to click. Even being able to identify suspicious email addresses, even coming from known websites/addresses, is vitally important to protecting your organisation.  

Other risks that are worth considering include: 

  • Outdated software and hardware: if no more patches are being worked on for your chosen software, this presents a huge opportunity for breaches 
  • Unprotected systems: lack of any security policies or measures in place  
  • Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication: MFA adds an additional layer of protection when accessing your systems, so your employees can verify logins as and when they happen and spot potential hacks when they occur and deny those logins 
  • Vulnerable firewalls: Cyber criminals will often look at penetrating network security, due to the immense disruption caused if they are able to do so – when a firewall is breached, it can open the doors for malware to spread across the network and effectively take your hardware and systems offline 
  • Weak passwords: password crackers have become more sophisticated over the years, so it’s imperative that your employees understand how to create passwords that are hard to guess and decipher  

What are the impacts of poor cyber security? 

Without proper cyber defences in place, you’ll suffer the immediate effects of an attack, as well as the long term effects. This could include: 

  • Financial loss: not just the immediate loss, but everything thereafter; the loss of customers trust, potential prospects etc. 
  • Reputational damage: stakeholders may be wary of working with you if you’ve been known to have a breach and customers might not want to share their sensitive information with you. It may also have an additional knock on effect when trying to hire employees who might be hesitant to work with you if you’ve been known to have security issues 
  • Loss of data: ultimately, loss of data will have a knock on effect throughout your organisation without any backups in place or measures to prevent the loss of data in the first place 
  • Regulatory implications: you may be fined for any breaches, such as GDPR 

Why do you need a Cyber Essentials certification? 

There are several reasons your organisation should be investing in Cyber Essentials, but among the main reasons are: 

  • Proving your commitment to cybersecurity for customer peace of mind and demonstrating that you’re proactively mitigating cyber threats 
  • Giving your customers, suppliers and partners peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to protect sensitive data and other personal information 
  • Some Government projects and contracts require you to have a Cyber Essentials certification 

Over 90% of cyber attacks start with phishing attacks. (https://www.dataprotectioneu.eu/over-90-of-cyber-attacks-begin-with-phishing-emails-protect-yourself-using-these-ways/) For this reason, a strong focus on employee education and awareness can be the first line of defence for your organisation. When employees understand how to recognise and respond to a cyber attack, they can minimise damage and disruption to the business.  

Because cyber attacks are not just a technology problem, a cyber security certification is a good way to ensure employees understand their role in preventing cyber attacks. A certification can also help you identify employees that may need additional training so that they can improve their skills and knowledge.  

For most organisations, the cost of a cyber attack can be very high. An attack can disrupt business operations, damage your reputation, and result in fines or lawsuits. If an attack involves sensitive data being stolen, it can cause reputational damage to your customers as well. 

How long does it take to get a Cyber Essentials certification? 

Cyber Essentials generally takes a few days to acquire, however if your hardware, software or policies need updating before getting to a point to get certified, this can be longer. 

At TSG, we offer a 5 day service to get Cyber Essentials certified – Days 1 and 2 are dedicated to getting your organisation ready for assessment and days 3, 4 and 5 are allocated for each quarter as annual assurance service days to continue to keep your organisation secure and certified.  

Your Cyber Essentials certification (and insurance, if taken) will need to be renewed every year, however with this baseline in place, you’ll be able to renew more efficiently each year. 

Can you get cybersecurity insurance with Cyber Essentials?  

Many insurance companies offer cyber insurance that can cover businesses and help them to recover in the event of a cyber attack.  

However, with Cyber Essentials, you’ll also be able to get specific cybersecurity insurance as part of it. (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/cyber-insurance-guidance 

In fact, if your business has less than £20m in revenue, you can get free cyber insurance if you obtain the Cyber Essentials certification: https://iasme.co.uk/cyber-essentials/cyber-liability-insurance/. However, before you do this you need to get accredited with an IASME approved certification body.  

How do you get a Cyber Essentials certification? 

To get your organisation certified you’ll need to understand the state of your cybersecurity defences.  

At TSG, our IASME certified consultants have the knowledge to ensure you get certified the first time – something other IT providers may not be able to give you. 

Visit our Cyber Essentials page to understand how TSG will help you get your certification.  

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