Cyber Essentials is a UK government information assurance scheme operated by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) that encourages organisations to adopt good practice in information security. It 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 is endorsed by the UK Government. It was launched in 2014 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
- Cyber Essentials: Organisations self-assess their systems, and this assessment is independently verified.
- Cyber Essentials Plus: Systems are independently tested, and Cyber Essentials is integrated into the organisation's information risk management.
Annual recertification is recommended. Certifying Bodies are, in turn, licensed by Accreditation Bodies, which have been appointed by UK government.
Beginning April 2020, IASME have been chosen by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to be the sole Cyber Essentials Scheme Accreditation body.
As with ISO/IEC 27001, organisations may choose to limit the scope of certification to a certain subset of their business.
The five main 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, 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 6,000 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 planned plan to spend a further £150 million to address key cyber security weaknesses over the next two years.
- Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Framework
- Government Digital Service
- Government Security Classifications Policy
- ISO/IEC 27001
- UK cyber security community
- UK Cyber Security Forum
- Official Cyber Essentials Website
- Official Cyber Essentials Advice
- Official Cyber Essentials Guidance - All Topics
- National Cyber Security Centre: 10 Steps to Cyber Security
- Official Cyber Essentials Requirements
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