Cyber Essentials for SMEs 101

Are you gearing up to make your SME cyber resilient? With the digital landscape evolving constantly and industry standards rising every year, it’s more vital than ever to secure your business fortress. Here, we uncover the mystery behind the UK government’s Cyber Essentials programme, helping you understand why you may benefit from it, and how to prepare for your assessment.

Understanding the Cyber Essentials scheme

Let’s break down what Cyber Essentials is and how it could become your SME’s next trust badge, building your reputation and keeping threats to a minimum.

Is Cyber Essentials compulsory?

Strictly speaking, Cyber Essentials isn’t mandatory for every SME in the UK. However, for contracts involving the government and certain other entities, showing that you have this badge of honour can give you a competitive edge. It shows your clients and supply partners that you take cyber security seriously, boosting your reputation, especially industries where data hygiene is paramount, such as in the legal, healthcare and financial sectors.

Small business, big security

You might be a new business, or perhaps you’re compact in size but when it comes to cyber security, thinking big is non-negotiable. Smaller businesses are often the direct target for large scale cyber scammers as they are more likely to overlook security as a priority and have procedures in place. Cyber Essentials arms your SME and every team member whether many or few, protecting you from prevalent cyber threats. It’s like installing a state-of-the-art alarm system for your home; offering you peace of mind so that you can focus on your day-to-day running of the business.

The Essentials of Cyber Essentials

The financial bit

Good things rarely come without a cost, so how much will Cyber Essentials accreditation set you back? The cost can vary depending on the complexity of your IT estate. As of 2023, accreditation can start from as low as £300. That’s less than a daily espresso coffee! The cost scales up with the number of employees in your business, and you when sizing up the Cyber Essentials certification, don’t forget to budget in infrastruture upgrades that you’ll need to pass.

Facing a hiccup in your assessment?

Failing isn’t the end of the road, if you’re prepared to treat your assessment as a one-off learning curve, giving you the insights needed to fortify your systems further. As part of your feedback, you’ll receive a detailed report pinpointing the areas that need a sprinkle of cyber magic. If you’re taking this on without an IT expert to support you, this could already have stolen time away from you that you can’t afford to lose again. Get in touch with a local IT support expert to get it sorted ASAP.

Your SME’s Road to Accreditation

DIY with some IT Support

If you’re confident that your in-house cyber security expert has the skill (and more importantly, the time!), we have resources to guide you step by step towards accreditation. From identifying potential risks to implementing the necessary controls, we’ve prepared a roadmap to take you from zero to cyber hero. Ask us about our Cyber Essentials guide.

Handing over the reins to the experts

For companies preferring to free up internal resource, entrusting the process to a cyber security expert like Clearsky IT is a wise choice. We offer strategies tailor-made for your exact business landscape and needs, steering you smoothly to your Cyber Essentials accreditation as fast as possible.

Let’s Start the Roadmap Today

So you know you need to get Cyber Essentials certified. Where do you begin?

Understanding the necessary elements

Before embarking on the journey, understanding the digital landscape is essential. Use credible resources to build a checklist of items to work on, in preparation for the assessment. IT support businesses such as Clearsky can identify the assets, vulnerabilities and implement a risk management strategy that is robust and practical.

Polishing your cyber hygiene

Just like we maintain personal hygiene, maintaining cyber hygiene is crucial. From setting up firewalls to approving regular updates, establish a routine throughout your whole team – that’s every person who uses a digital device – that keeps threats at bay.

Documentation – your roadmap

Creating a well-detailed document outlining your cyber security policies serves as a roadmap guiding you throughout the journey. It is a reflection of your readiness and commitment to secure operations. These topics should be thoroughly audited and implemented before you consider yourself ready for certification:

Boundary Firewalls and Internet Gateways

Secure Configuration

User Access Control

Malware Protection

Patch Management

Password Policy

Secure Network

Backup and Recovery

Incident Response Plan

Compliance and Legal Requirements

Employee Training and Awareness

Any of these terms look unfamiliar to you? If the answer is yes, it likely indicates that, if you want to pass first time around, you should enlist the help of the experts. It’s also beneficial to have a pre-assessment to identify any gaps in your security posture before the official assessment.

Venturing into the world of Cyber Essentials might initially seem like a steep mountain to climb, but with the right guidance, its no more stressful than a walk in the park. Whether you decide to take the reins or let Clearsky IT lead the way, embracing Cyber Essentials is stepping towards a secure, resilient future.

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