Comparing Cyber Essentials vs ISO 27001: Navigating the Best Path for Your Cybersecurity

Comparing Cyber Essentials vs ISO 27001

In the face of growing cyber threats, ‘Cyber Essentials vs ISO 27001’ is a common dilemma for businesses tightening their security belts. Cyber Essentials offers a fundamental, data protection first layer, ideal for those requiring UK government contract compliance. In contrast, ISO 27001 delivers a far-reaching information security framework suitable for global application. This article aims to clarify distinctions and assist in choosing the certification pathway that fortifies your organisation’s unique cyber defences.

Key Findings

  • Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are UK government-endorsed certifications focusing on basic cybersecurity measures, with the Plus version involving physical testing by assessors. At the same time, ISO 27001 is an international comprehensive information security management standard.

  • Cyber Essentials is more accessible and quicker to obtain through a self-assessment questionnaire aimed at primary cyber defence. In contrast, ISO 27001 requires thoroughly implementing an Information Security Management System (ISMS) and a rigorous audit process covering a broader range of security practices.

  • Selecting between Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001, or opting for both certifications, depends on the organisation’s specific security needs, risk management approach, and compliance requirements, with potential benefits from their integration, including improved cybersecurity and risk management.

Cyber Essentials certification process

Understanding Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus

Cyber Essentials is a UK government-endorsed certification. The National Cyber Security Centre supports it. This certification highlights the importance of basic cybersecurity measures. The Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises recognises this accreditation. The Information Security Forum, in collaboration with the Government, also supports it. It targets protection against common cyber attacks. It’s an essential resource for organisations handling sensitive personal data anywhere. It’s also crucial for those vying for UK government contracts.

Cyber Essentials isn’t a one-size-fits-all certification. It offers two versions – Cyber Essentials Basic and Cyber Essentials Plus. The Basic version relies on a self-assessment questionnaire. This evaluates basic cybersecurity practices. The Plus version offers a higher level of assurance. A certified Cyber Essentials assessor conducts physical testing and auditing. This ensures compliance with the standards.

The cost for Cyber Essentials certification begins at £350 plus VAT. The exact cost of preparation for Cyber Essentials Plus varies. Cyphere offers it between £1299 and £1999. It depends on the size and complexity of the organisation. Before attempting the Cyber Essentials Plus certification, organisations need first to obtain the Cyber Essentials certification within three months. This is a prerequisite for applying for the Plus certification. However, achieving Cyber Essentials Plus is possible without getting the essential accreditation beforehand.

A blue background with a plane flying in the sky, showcasing CTA-CE Plus.

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification

  • Protect sensitive data, protect your business
  • Improve eligibility for new opportunities across regulated industries and public sector.

Unraveling ISO 27001

ISO 27001 information security management system

Conversely, ISO 27001 is an internationally acknowledged information security systems management standard. It extends beyond the realm of basic cybersecurity measures encompassed by Cyber Essentials, providing a comprehensive framework that addresses cyber essentials controls all forms of online and offline information.

ISO 27001 covers a broader scope than Cyber Essentials by addressing organisational, personnel, physical, and technical domains. It utilises a risk-based approach to prevent data breaches, examining information security in all aspects of the business, whether online or offline. This holistic approach to information security makes ISO 27001 an invaluable standard for organisations of all sizes and industries.

Securing an ISO 27001 certification can revolutionise a business by improving its approach to information security. It includes CyEssentials’ basic controls and security update management provides a comprehensive holistic information security management framework.

Organisations can achieve ISO 27001 certification by:

  • Ensuring they have the necessary documentation outlining policies, records, and procedures

  • Having their documentation audited by an accredited certification body

  • Undergoing recertification audits every three years

Key Differences between Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001

While Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 fortify an organisation’s cybersecurity measures, they differ in their focus and scope. Cyber Essentials is centred on five technical controls for fundamental cybersecurity, whereas ISO 27001 encompasses a broader range of information security management, incorporating key controls for risk assessment and mitigation.

This contrast in their approach makes a comparative analysis of the two certifications insightful.

Certification Process

Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 display significant differences in their certification processes.

The process of obtaining Cyber Essentials certification is relatively simple and quick, involving completing and submitting an online questionnaire assessed by a certified Cyber Essentials assessor. This streamlined process makes it an accessible certification for organisations of all sizes.

Demonstrating a proactive approach to cybersecurity is crucial in today’s digital landscape. One way to do this is through obtaining Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

Unlike the basic Cyber Essentials certification, the Plus version involves an independent audit conducted by a certified body like Cyphere to ensure compliance with the standards. This provides an additional layer of assurance and signals to stakeholders that the organisation is actively committed to maintaining robust cybersecurity measures.

Information security management system (ISMS)

ISO 27001, however, requires a more thorough process. To attain ISO 27001 certification, an organisation must develop and implement an Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) that complies with all the standard stipulations. They must then undergo a successful audit to demonstrate the establishment of effective policies and provide evidence of compliance.

This comprehensive audit and continuous management of information security systems attest to the in-depth approach of ISO 27001 to ensure information security.

Scope and Focus

Further distinguishing these certifications are the scope and focus of Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001.

Cyber Essentials primarily concentrates on the basic level of cyber security measures, explicitly addressing main areas like:

Comparing Cyber Essentials vs ISO 27001

  • firewalls

  • secure configuration

  • user access control

  • malware protection

  • patch management

These measures help organisations defend against common cyber attacks, including the risk of a cyber attack. By implementing these basic cyber security measures and practices, businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to cyber threats.

This makes it a crucial certification for organisations looking to fortify their technical cybersecurity measures.

ISO 27001, in contrast, offers a comprehensive approach to information security. It evaluates individuals, policies, and technology, encompassing the entire organisation, including its personnel, technology, and procedures. It also addresses unauthorised physical access and safeguards against environmental risks.

This extensive scope ensures a holistic approach to managing and reducing data security, risks and data handling practices for international organization.

Choosing the Right One or Both: Cyber Essentials or ISO 27001?

Choosing between Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001

The decision between Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 isn’t quite cut-and-dry. It is influenced by various factors, including compliance requirements, the organisation’s risk management approach, and its specific information security risk and needs, rather than being solely dictated by the organisation’s size. For instance, industries where Cyber Essentials certification is a prerequisite for securing government contracts might find this certification more pertinent.

However, there are also advantages to completing the Cyber Essentials scheme before pursuing ISO 27001. By doing so, organisations can reduce the initial workload for the IT aspects of ISO 27001 and are likely to have established a set of processes and records that will aid in complying with the broader ISO standard.

Some organisations might even implement both certifications to optimise their cybersecurity coverage. Cyber Essentials serves as a basis for technical cyber assurance, while ISO 27001 provides a more comprehensive holistic information security management framework. This combination offers a robust defence mechanism against a broad spectrum of cyber threats.

Benefits of Combining Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001

Integrating Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 into an organisation’s cybersecurity strategy can reap substantial benefits. This combination provides an expansive coverage of security measures, encompassing fundamental controls and advanced risk management strategies. This integrated approach enhances protection against sophisticated cyber threats and enables a more thorough examination of an organisation’s cybersecurity posture.

ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials complement each other, enhancing each other’s strengths. While Cyber Essentials is centred on technical cybersecurity controls, ISO 27001 takes a comprehensive approach to managing and safeguarding information assets, covering all facets of information security. This amalgamation of the two certifications ensures that no area of cybersecurity is overlooked.

The impact on a business’s cybersecurity is of significant importance. The Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 frameworks collaborate to provide a comprehensive framework for managing and protecting sensitive information and assets within a business. This collaboration contributes to a holistic cybersecurity strategy that effectively addresses various risks.

Achieving ISO 27001 or Cyber Essentials Certification or Both with Cyphere

As an IASME-certified certification body, Cyphere offers a wide range of services, including Cyber Essentials Plus and ISO 27001 certification services. It also provides CREST penetration testing services to high standards.

To achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification with Cyphere, organisations must undergo a technical audit administered by Cyphere as an external certifying body. On the other hand, for other organisations to obtain ISO 27001 certification, implementing an ISMS and successfully passing an audit conducted by Cyphere, an accredited certification body, is necessary.

Get in touch for a free consultation to discuss your security objectives and get independent advice. 

Apart from certifications, Cyphere extends its services to additional cybersecurity offerings. It offers CREST penetration testing and risk mitigation advice as part of its cybersecurity services. These other services can aid organisations in identifying and addressing their organisation’s systems’ unique cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities, further enhancing their security posture.

cyber essentials plus certification

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification

  • Protect sensitive data, protect your business
  • Improve eligibility for new opportunities across regulated industries and public sector.

Real-World Examples: Organisations Successfully Implementing Both Standards

Real-world examples bring the benefits of implementing Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 to light. is an example of an organisation that has effectively implemented Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001.

Following the implementation of both certifications, organisations have observed enhancements in the following areas:

Comparing Cyber Essentials vs ISO 27001

  • Cybersecurity

  • Understanding of risk exposure

  • Implementation of information security

  • Achievement of continual improvement

  • Improvement in best practices

This showcases the practical benefits of combining the two certifications and their improvements in an organisation’s rules international organization’s cybersecurity measures and practices.

Integrating Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 enhances organisational risk management by amalgamating essential technical security controls with a strategic approach to safeguarding IT infrastructure. This leads to a more flexible, scalable, and cost-efficient cybersecurity framework, making it an ideal strategy for organisations looking to enhance their cybersecurity measures.


The journey through the world of Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 has revealed its unique features, strengths, and differences. While both certifications aim to fortify an organisation’s cybersecurity measures, they differ in focus and scope.

Cyber Essentials is centred on five technical controls for fundamental cybersecurity, whereas ISO 27001 encompasses five key controls for a broader range of other information security management systems, incorporating risk assessment and mitigation.

A robust cybersecurity strategy is crucial in an era of escalating cyber threats. Implementing certifications like Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 can form a significant part of this strategy.

Whether an organisation chooses one or both will depend on its specific needs and circumstances. However, as we’ve explored, combining the best practice the two can offer an expansive coverage of security measures and a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, making it a powerful strategy to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does ISO 27001 include cyber security?

Yes, ISO 27001 includes cyber security by providing 114 security controls encompassing people, processes, and technology, promoting a holistic approach to information security. It is a tool for risk management, cyber-resilience, and operational excellence.

Which is better, ISO 27001 or NIST?

It depends on your specific needs and priorities. NIST CSF is more technical and best for the initial stages of a cybersecurity risk program, while ISO 27001 involves more audits and certifications with more significant expense. Choose based on your organisation’s requirements and budget.

Is Cyber Essentials a standard?

Cyber Essentials is a standard framework supported by the UK government and the NCSC, designed to enhance cybersecurity by implementing essential security controls in secure settings.

What is equivalent to ISO 27001?

The IASME Governance Standard is equivalent to ISO 27001, providing a similar level of assurance with simpler and often cheaper implementation for small and medium-sized organisations.

What is the difference between ISO 27001 and Cyber Security Essentials Plus?

The main difference between ISO 27001 and Cyber Security Essentials Plus is their recognition as certifications. Cyber Essentials is a government-backed certificate, while ISO 27001 is an international certification with international standard only.


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