What do you get with Cyber essentials ?


Among the Cyber Security industry, two terms often perplex individuals and organisations alike: "Cyber Essentials" and "Penetration test". If you're seeking clarity on how these concepts differ, we will weigh out what Cyber Essentials offers and how it distinguishes itself from a penetration test.



Understanding Cyber Essentials

Cyber Essentials is a cybersecurity certification program devised by the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) in the UK. It serves as a structured framework for organisations aiming to bolster their cybersecurity defenses. Within the Cyber Essentials program, two primary certification tiers exist: Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus.

1. Cyber Essentials: This tier resembles a self-certification process, offering accessibility to organisations with varying sizes and budgets. It constitutes a fundamental evaluation of cybersecurity practices.

2. Cyber Essentials Plus: This advanced level involves a thorough audit of an organisation's cybersecurity measures, with an emphasis on thorough scrutiny.


Cyber Essentials Plus Certification - Cerberus Nuclear


Key Aspects of Cyber Essentials

  • External IP Addresses: Assesses the security of external IP addresses to prevent vulnerabilities.

  • Internal Device Security: Evaluates internal device protection, reflecting the organisation's security level.

  • Firewalls: Checks firewall configurations to ensure they effectively block unauthorized access.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Examines MFA use to enhance system access security.

  • Secure Configuration: Reviews system settings against security standards to minimize risks.

  • Patch Management: Focuses on updating software and systems to fix vulnerabilities.

  • Malware Protection: Looks at anti-malware measures to protect against malicious software.


Why Opt for Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials presents several compelling advantages, rendering it an attractive choice for numerous organisations:

💸Cost-Efficiency: Cyber Essentials delivers an effective balance between cost and cybersecurity enhancement, making it a financially viable option. You are looking at a figure between £1000-£2000.

👐A Penetration Test Alternative :  It resembles thorough cybersecurity assessments, including both internal and external evaluations. External tests generally range from £1,000 to £4,500, and more advanced assessments could potentially cost between £10,000 and £20,000. Customised tests are recommended for organisations with unique regulatory needs or proprietary software/SaaS platforms.

🎖️Certification for Clients: It furnishes a certification that demonstrates your dedication to cybersecurity, instilling confidence in clients and partners.

📍Benchmarking: Cyber Essentials establishes a cybersecurity benchmark for your organisation, enabling you to gauge progress and identify areas necessitating improvement.

💪Regulatory Alignment: It can aid in creating a cybersecurity yardstick for you and your team to align with Cyber Essentials requirements, shaping your mindset and establishing a solid foundation for security efforts.


Distinguishing Cyber Essentials from a Penetration Test

Now, let's address the central query: how does Cyber Essentials differ from a penetration test, steering clear of the obvious focus on vulnerability assessment?

🔭Scope: Cyber Essentials boasts a thorough scope that encompasses external IP addresses, internal device security, MFA, and configuration, along with vulnerability assessment. Conversely, a Penetration Test primarily focusses on uncovering weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your systems and actually tries to gain access (sometimes).

Cyber Essentials  Penetration Test (can also include)
Baseline Security Controls
External Network Perimeter
Secure Configuration
Access Control
Malware Protection
Patch Management

Application Testing
Social Engineering
Physical Security
Wireless Network Testing


💰Cost: Cyber Essentials is notably more cost-effective than a full-scale penetration test, making it a pragmatic choice for budget-conscious organisations.

⌛Frequency: Cyber Essentials is typically conducted periodically, while penetration tests tend to occur less frequently, often on an as-needed basis.

📜Certification: Cyber Essentials culminates in a formal certification that attests to your commitment to cybersecurity. In contrast, penetration tests furnish detailed findings but do not yield a certification.


In Summary... 

Cyber Essentials is a cost-effective way to improve your organisation's cybersecurity, making it an ideal starting point for beginners or those with budget constraints. However, for specific regulatory needs or extensive testing, a penetration test may be necessary.

The main difference is that Cyber Essentials is a foundational certification, while a penetration test simulates real hacker attacks and is more expensive. Consult your Cyber Essentials Plus assessor to decide if a full penetration test is required.



Any Questions?

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Posted by Terry Lewis

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I’m lucky to have worked in technology all over the world for large multi-national organisations, in recent years I have built technology brands and developed products to help make technology that bit easier for people to grasp and manage. By day I run tech businesses, by night (as soon as the kids have gone to bed) I write code and I love building Cyber Security technology.

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