When making any major business decision, thoroughly analysing all of the data is considered a smart move. Cyber Essentials certification is one such decision. While GDPR and Cyber Essentials certification offer several data security solutions for your firm, they will come with an initial cost. As a business owner, your job is to decide if protecting your firm against the risk of cyber threat is worth that small start-up cost, or whether to take the chance.

We put together this informative piece as a guide to the Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certification processes. The best business decisions are always made when all the facts have been gathered. To that end: let us guide you through the steps to achieving GDPR certification and providing your firm with exemplary IT governance measures.

Different Security Certifications

There are three different ways you can protect your organisation from data breaches. We explored each certification method below in more detail. In all cases, certification is achieved only through the correct application to a government-approved body. Ensuring you have chosen the right level of certification for the purposes of your business operations is the first step in the process.

GDPR Certification

GDPR certification is a reasonably new scheme that helps businesses navigate the intricacies of the GDPR. These data protection laws were introduced throughout EU countries in May 2018. In the simplest of levels GDPR certification allows you to ensure that your firm is consistently compliant with GDPR. All businesses operating inside the EU must be GDPR compliant. Certification is not essential but does promote your business as a trustworthy source.

Cyber Essentials Certification

The Cyber Essentials Scheme was introduced in 2014 by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK. It provides certification for organisations that take the time to review and self-asses their own IT governance systems. Self-assessments are then independently verified by your chosen government-approved certification body. When you endorse in Cyber Essentials certification you prove to both competitors and consumers that any data stored with you is safe.

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification

Cyber Essentials Plus tests the same issues as Cyber Essentials but goes into greater detail. Besides, your chosen certifying body will send an independent evaluator to test your IT governance security procedures. If you are a government contractor this is the preferred level of certification to assure you the best chance of being chosen for work.

How Long Does It Take to Protect My Firm from Data Breaches?

The level of certification you would like to apply for will impact how long it takes to complete Cyber Essentials Certification. If you wish to gain the self-assessment part of Cyber Essentials, you may have approval in as little as 24 hours. If you want to take part in Cyber Essentials Plus certification then an independent evaluator will need to assess your cybersecurity situation and complete a report. Some firms can do this in as little as three days. We advise that you allow up to 5 working days for an appropriate response.

GDPR certification can take longer and will require the examination of all IT systems to ensure compliance with the regulations. Once your firm is up-to-speed, however, it will be much easier to both safely store and retrieve data from your internal systems.

What Areas Are Assessed for Cyber Essentials?

Whether you self-assess for Cyber Essentials or whether you are being reviewed by an external accreditation expert, the same areas will be assessed to differing degrees. Please note that GDPR certification ensures you are in alignment with GDPR and does not give the additional cybersecurity benefits provided by cyber essentials.

The areas the assessment process examines are:

  • The efficacy and extent of the firewalls used to protect data.
  • The secure configuration of your IT governance systems.
  • User access controls, inclusive of web, email and points of user contact.
  • Malware protection and whether or not your firm is secure.
  • Patch Management and how you correct known security issues.

You can read an exact copy of the assessment’s objectives by visiting the NCSC here. It is highly recommended that you hire a Cyber Essentials Certification firm that can aid you in preparation for your evaluation.

An expert organisation will ensure each aspect of your business is appropriately protected. They can also advise you on any changes you can make before your assessment of self-assessment. Operating in this method will boost your chances of passing the certification requirements on the first attempt.

What Company IT Devices Will Be Assessed?

Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essential Plus certification, will both examine a range of IT technology in your place of work for potential cybersecurity threats. Any mobile or remote devices owned or operated by the organisation are included in this. If you have company laptops that are in the hands of trusted employees then they will need to be involved in the process as well as the security of devices you own.

The certification also takes into account the security of devices that can connect to your companies networks. It covers externally managed networks that handle data storage (such as One Drive or the Cloud) and applies to any internet apps or other externally managed services. In an absolute sense the cyber essentials certification assessment will encompass all the devices used by your business and any devices which may interact with your goods and services.

How Much Does Cyber Essential Certification Cost?

Cyber Essentials Certification can cost your business as little as £49 per calendar month (+ VAT). If you combine both GDPR certification and Cyber Essentials Compliance, the combined cost is roughly £99 +VAT. Be prepared to pay upwards of these estimates. Cyber Essentials Plus will vary in value depending on the size of your organisation. Most specialist firms will be able to provide a quote for this.

Which Security Certifications Should My Business Use?

If you are handling secure government contracts, large amounts of credit or vast quantities of consumer data, then you should opt for Cyber Essentials Plus. If you wish to be known as a trusted competitor, supplier or associate then Cyber Essentials Certification should cover your needs. All businesses need to be GDPR compliant, but certification is optional. If you do achieve certification you will not need to review it for a further three years.

Ultimately, the level of security your firm needs will depend on your circumstances. Data breaches and cybersecurity threats have the potential to do untold damage to your business, profits and reputation. Making moves to avoid them using Cyber Essentials certification is a preventative method you are unlikely to regret. In the case of consumer data handling prevention is most definitely better than cure.

Author bio:

Mudassar Ali is a Tech Lover, A writer, A tourist. Working in CyberSmart as marketing manager. I love to travel and write, it’s been more than 10 years in digital marketing, and I am still learning.