Among the many solutions that are meant to help companies protect their online assets, one, in particular, stands out — the Cyber Essentials program.
Introducing Cyber Essentials
Cyber Essentials is a UK-based national information security and certification scheme for UK websites and businesses.
The UK government initiated this program to encourage and compel industries to prioritize safeguarding their company and customers’ data privacy.
To help enterprises do that, Cyber Essentials includes five security-enhancing controls you need to maintain diligently.
If you can demonstrate the solidness of your IT systems and networks during a series of program assessments, you can obtain a Cyber Essentials certification and displayable badge.
Why use Cyber Essentials, anyway?
Enforcing the Cyber Essentials program, even pursuing certification, prompts your SME to fortify your network defenses and bolster your internal data protection initiatives.
For one, the program allows you to audit or revisit your company’s IT security.
When was the last time you reviewed your company’s cyber safety policies? How effective and functional is your access governance structure? Do you update your endpoint security?
These are some of the questions you need to ponder on, especially if you depend heavily on digital infrastructures.
Doing so lets you inspect more deeply and dig out weaknesses previously unseen and unresolved.
Cyber threats today also continue to adapt and evolve into new and possibly more powerful forms that can pass through outdated protective mechanisms undetected.
Malware, for instance, now transforms into various kinds according to today’s modern digital environments, such as malicious bots and through cryptocurrencies.
When malicious software gets into your IT landscape, it can destroy your files, steal your identity information, and allow hackers to enter and unleash further damage and attacks.
If their evil plans succeed, you can lose thousands to millions of dollars’ worth of financial assets and spend more for repair and recovery.
You can also hurt your SME brand reputation as the data breach gives negative impressions about your company values.
When you experience breaches due to negligence, you imply that you don’t care about your assets, customers, and partners enough to invest in establishing robust security strategies.
As a result, your potential and current customers conclude your SME isn’t worthy of the trust and money they put into your brand and products.
They may even spread the word to their family, peers, and followers. You can then lose your sales, conversions, audience patronage, and more.
Cyber Essentials, however, can help you avoid all that as it aids you in exercising the best IT security practices for your SME.
When you earn the Cyber Essentials certification badge, you can also display it on your website, app, printed collaterals, emails, social media for ecommerce marketing, and many others.
The badge instantly gives your audience a positive brand impression as it demonstrates your commitment to your business and customer data privacy.
The Cyber Essentials badge tells your potential and regular customers that they can feel safe when transacting with you online.
That commitment can even prepare you to comply with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which upholds customer data privacy, especially of European citizen users.
You can even open doors to partnership opportunities with public UK offices as you bid for particular projects.
These offices are mandated to engage only with Cyber Essential certification holders for contracts involving sensitive data and technical services.
Besides that, being Cyber Essentials certified can entitle you for insurance coverage and save up to 25,000 UK dollars.
Cyber insurance firms favor you more when you hold a Cyber Essentials certification.
It tells them you’re responsible enough to protect your IT facilities the best way possible and prepare should you suffer from inevitable risks.
Lastly, if you’re planning to scale up, following information security protocols prepares you early on for greater cyber responsibilities and challenges.
After all, scaling up means handling more data and exposing your SME data to greater risk — and that’s where Cyber Essentials comes in to help.
Cyber Essentials helps you safeguard your assets because it emphasizes five basic technical controls that you should establish in your SME’s networks and systems.
Firewalls, for instance, safeguard your in-house network from the rest of the elements online. They function as your frontmost layer of defense from undesirable users outside, particularly cybercriminals.
Firewalls stop viruses, spam, malicious code, and other unwanted traffic meant to corrupt and steal files in your devices.
Malware protection is also crucial. You must update anti-malware programs and train your staff to identify phishing techniques that commonly insert malicious files and links in emails.
Access control deals with whom you allow to get hold of which kinds of data. It urges you to limit data acquisition only to those with directly relevant assignments.
These permissions should then be reflected in the stipulations of your cybersecurity policies.
Access control eventually helps you trace and strengthen the liability for data management should breaches take place.
Security configuration, on the other hand, calls you to enforce best practices like encrypting your site and email domains, strengthening your passwords, verifying identity when logging in, etc.
If you’re still creating or redesigning your website, these steps become an opportunity for you to prioritize your cybersecurity and protect your online store at the onset.
Finally, patch management requires that you install and periodically update your firewalls and anti-virus programs, so you thwart new and evolving forms of malware and other threats.
Getting Started with Cyber Essentials
Now, if you’re ready to get started with Cyber Essentials, start by performing a security audit. Check your IT environment, see things from a top-level view, and document your findings.
You also need to outsource vulnerability assessments to uncover your network and system weaknesses.
You then have to answer a 52-item questionnaire about how you manage the technical controls in your company, as well as go through a shared service assessment.
Once the accrediting body finds positive results from your vulnerability scan, questionnaire answers, and shared service assessment, it issues you your Cyber Essentials certification and badge.
Invest in Cyber Essentials as a starting point
More than the badge and certification, the ultimate reward and benefit you get from Cyber Essentials is your SME’s and customers’ data protection against threats and attacks.
Cyber Essentials helps you achieve that when you diligently carry out the technical controls.
This makes Cyber essentials an excellent starting point you can invest in for your SME cybersecurity program and onward business success.
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