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What is a Cyber Essentials Certification and why is it beneficial for business?

If you are a UK-based business in 2020 then chances are that the lion’s share of your business is done digitally. Small businesses form the backbone of the economy, with 99% of the 5.7 million businesses currently operating in the UK employing fewer than 50 members of staff. 

For these businesses, the digital revolution has meant they are, in many cases, able to offer services comparable to their big-budget competitors. However, it has also meant they are open to the same threats too, particularly if they are using cloud solutions to store their customer data.

With cybercrime making more headlines by the month, even small and medium businesses need to ensure they are safe and to let their customers know that their data is safe in their capable hands. 

That’s why Cyber Essentials (CE) exists: A government-backed scheme launched by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in 2014, it was designed to help ensure organisations of all sizes are adopting best practices in their protection against cyber attacks.

Cyber Essentials is a scheme that can offer:-

Protection – When implemented, the 5 controls at the heart of the scheme (firewalls, phishing, anti-malware, secure configuration, and control user access) will protect your business from 80% of all common cyber threats.

Reputation For smaller organisations, a CE certification is a potentially powerful feather for their cap, which reveals they are serious about protecting their data and the security of their customers. 

A certification will significantly bolster the credibility and reputation of your business as it shows that you have taken serious preventative action against any potential cyber threats.

Respect – There is an unmistakable level of respect that comes with a CE certification that will open up a wealth of new business opportunities and prove to potential partners and new clients that your working environment is digitally safe and secure. It’s also impossible to make a bid for government contracts without one.

Insurance – Companies that have been certified by the cyber essentials scheme are looked on more favourably by cyber insurance companies and might even be eligible for free cyber insurance cover, which could save them a small fortune. 

Self-reflection – As the scheme requires a business to self-assess their security against an assessor’s questionnaire, it’s the perfect chance from some internal auditing. 

If it’s been a while since you last put your IT security under the microscope then the scrutiny you put it under prior to applying for CE accreditation might just reveal a few cracks that need feeling in.

It’s also remarkably easy to get started. The process involves a self-abasement questionnaire that is then reviewed by an accredited certification body and if everything checks out, then you should be ready to go within three days. 

A CE certification is also remarkably affordable, with the standard self-assessment costing just over £300. However, if you are concerned that your cybersecurity practices might not be quite up to scratch then you can also purchase as assisted self-assessment for just under £1,000, which offers a face-to-face video conference call that will directly highlight any gaps in your security that need to be addressed. 

You can even apply for a PLUS certification, which includes a more thorough report and is necessary if you wish to apply for more advanced government contracts.

A true business essential

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 32% of businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2019 and this wasn’t just major businesses. Indeed, rogue, individual hackers are far more likely to go after a smaller business as whilst the spoils might not be as rich, it’s a far less risky task.

Still, 1 in 5 businesses remain unaware of the benefits of CE accreditation. Indeed, 10% of IT managers surveyed by OGL were not even sure whether or not their company actually was accredited. Of those same companies surveys, however, 84% of those certified claimed it has actively helped them to win new contracts, due to its value as a measure of reassurance.

So, if you’re on the fence about applying for accreditation yourself, now more than ever, with the world in lockdown and turning increasingly in a digital direction, there has perhaps never been a better time to