What To Look For In A Cyber Essentials Assessment Partner

Earlier this year the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) introduced an updated set of requirements for the Cyber Essentials (CE) scheme, representing the most significant revamp of the scheme’s technical controls since its launch in 2014.

The profound changes to the way people work over the past few years has introduced new cyber security challenges for employers. The NSCS update reflects this evolving threat landscape. 
 
Where is your organisation along the road to digital transformation? With many businesses now invested in cloud services and with the widespread adoption of hybrid and remote working practices, the landscape for cyber security is evolving at a fast pace. Does your business ensure that work-critical apps on Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) are protected? Does your IT estate allow employees to access all their data and files in the cloud seamlessly, in such a way that they can continue to work efficiently and productively anywhere? Reflecting the changes many businesses are now faced with, the remodelled CE schemes now offer organisations up-to-date advice and protection to help deal with the new working world.
 
Choosing An Assessor

The first step in getting your business CE certified is through online assessment. At the most basic level you can download the Cyber Essentials readiness toolkit. Answering questions about your current security posture will help you to create an action plan for your business to meet Cyber Essentials requirements. While this is a good place to start, opting for the more advanced CE+ will ensure your business is fully prepared to face modern cyber security challenges.
 
To gain CE+ accreditation, your business must complete an online assessment, followed by a technical audit to confirm that the necessary Cyber Essentials controls are in place. The audit includes a representative sample of user devices, all internet gateways, and all services that can be accessed by unauthenticated internet users. 
 
There are several benefits of CE+ accreditation. Passing the technical audit shows that your business is serious about combating cyber crime, which is reassuring to current and potential customers alike. But accreditation should also be viewed as an opportunity to fill any gaps in your security defences, to strengthen any weak links, or even identify training opportunities for your employees (often the weakest link in an organisation’s security structure thanks to sophisticated social engineering attacks). 
 
You may already have an assessor in mind to get your business Cyber Essentials certified, but do they thoroughly understand the framework? How much expertise do they have in critical areas such as application, endpoint, and cloud security?

When it comes to CE+ and the associated technical audit, your business is best served by an assessment partner who has the technical background and solutions to remediate any gaps you may have within the updated CE requirements before you take the assessment. 
 
Take, for example, evolving endpoint threats. With many businesses adopting practices such as BYOD and your employees adopting more flexible approaches to working, complete endpoint protection is vital for your organisation. 
 
Can your IT team name all the users within your organisation that need access to data in the cloud, and can they spot any unusual activity in real time? So-called shadow IT has grown exponentially in recent years with the adoption of cloud-based applications and services. And with cloud fast becoming the number one choice for businesses when it comes to managing and storing data and apps, have you ensured that your data in the cloud is secure? Your employees should be able to work productively anywhere in the world, with secure access to all the data and apps they need.
 
Collaborative working requires collaborative solutions that enable all stakeholders to securely share and access all the files and data they need. Who needs visibility of documents within your business? Who has visibility of these documents? Knowing the answers to these questions is crucial if your organisation is serious about keeping sensitive or private information secure. And if your business is subject to industry-specific regulations, your security strategy must include safeguards to keep you compliant. 
 
Whatever point your organisation is at in its digital transformation journey, you are probably already using cloud services and grappling with novel cyber security challenges brought about by hybrid and remote working practices. 
 
The Cyber Essentials schemes have been updated to help your business deal with these modern demands. Take this opportunity to choose a partner who can provide a robust technical audit, has the expertise to deliver technical solutions that are right for your business, and can ensure you ace the Cyber Essentials assessment. 
 
Steve Whiter is Director of Appurity

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