Cyber Essentials is a United Kingdom government information assurance scheme that is operated by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). It encourages organisations to adopt good practice in information security. Cyber Essentials also includes an assurance framework and a simple set of security controls to protect information from threats coming from the internet.
It was developed in collaboration with industry partners, including the Information Security Forum (ISF), the Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises Consortium (IASME), and the British Standards Institution (BSI), and it is endorsed by the UK Government. It was launched in 2014 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
To maintain certification, organisations are required to undergo re-certification on an annual basis.
Certifying Bodies are licensed by Accreditation Bodies, which have been appointed by UK government.
As with ISO/IEC 27001, organisations may choose to limit the scope of certification to a certain subset of their business and this must be disclosed on their certificate.
Commonly referred to as mark your own homework, organisations self-assess their systems, and then complete an online assessment, the answers are then independently verified.
There is no third party verification of the accuracy of the answers.
The cost for the basic assessment is £300 and is subject to VAT within the UK.
Cyber Essentials Plus
The same as the basic but with independent validation by an accredited third party.
Systems are independently tested, and Cyber Essentials is integrated into the organisation's information risk management.
The five technical controls are:
- Boundary firewalls and internet gateways
- Secure configuration
- Access control
- Malware protection
- Patch management
Cyber Essentials guidance breaks these down into finer details.
These controls can be mapped against the controls required by ISO/IEC 27001, the Standard of Good Practice for Information Security, and IASME Governance, although Cyber Essentials has a narrower focus, emphasising technical controls rather than governance, risk, and policy.
The Cyber Essentials scheme was launched on 5 June 2014. Several organisations were quickly certified by the end of June. Since October 2014, Cyber Essentials certification has been required for suppliers to central UK government who handle certain kinds of sensitive and personal information. This is intended to encourage adoption by businesses wishing to bid for government contracts. Insurers have suggested that certified bodies may attract lower insurance premiums. Over 30,000 Cyber Essentials certificates have been awarded to businesses and organisations.
After the WannaCry ransomware attack, NHS Digital refused to finance the £1 billion which was the estimated cost of meeting the Cyber Essentials Plus standard, saying this would not constitute value for money and that it had invested over £60 million and plan to spend a further £150 million to address key cyber security weaknesses over the next two years.
- Government Digital Service
- Government Security Classifications Policy
- ISO/IEC 27001
- UK cyber security community
- UK Cyber Security Forum
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