A Comprehensive Comparison of Cyber Essentials vs Cyber Essentials PLUS

cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus

Protecting sensitive data and maintaining customer trust is paramount, and demonstrating your data security commitment is equally important. One way to achieve this is by obtaining a Cyber Essentials certification. But what are the differences between “cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus”, and how do they impact your organisation’s cybersecurity strategy?

Today, we will explore these two certifications, emphasising their importance and critical distinctions. By the end, you will have a comprehensive understanding of how these certifications can fortify your business against cyber attacks and help you stay ahead in cybersecurity.

Key Points About Cyber Essentials Scheme

    • Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS are two certification levels offered by IASME and backed by the UK Government.
    • Obtaining a certification helps organisations meet regulatory requirements, build trust with customers, and reinforce their security posture.
    • Certifications require an independent audit by a certified body, plus vulnerability scans. Partnering with experienced providers like Cyphere ensures compliance & enhanced cybersecurity measures.

    Understanding Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS

    The Cyber Essentials Scheme is a UK government-backed cybersecurity certification scheme to protect organisations from common cyber attacks. Developed by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Cyber Essentials certification demonstrates a business’s commitment to data protection and cybersecurity.

    Two certification levels are available: Cyber Essentials (Level 1) and Cyber Essentials PLUS (Level 2). Level 1, or Cyber Essentials Basic, focuses on implementing five essential security controls to protect against the most common cyber threats. On the other hand, Cyber Essentials PLUS involves a more rigorous assessment process, providing a higher level of assurance and protection against cyber criminals.

    Businesses can significantly improve their cybersecurity posture by understanding and meeting the cyber essentials requirements.

    The Importance of Cyber Security Certification

    A certification is nothing if the defined controls in its guidance are not implemented in letter and spirit. A quick Google will show you why so many companies out there have been breached that were PCI DSS, as well as GDPR were certified.

    When an organisation achieves Cyber Essentials certification, it reaps several benefits. It’s a clear demonstration of their commitment to data protection and cybersecurity, which in turn builds trust with customers and partners. Furthermore, it helps meet prerequisites as suppliers, enables you to step in the door at various marketplaces, and secures your position in the supply chain, especially when dealing with government contracts requiring Cyber Essentials certification.

    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.

    In regulated sectors, such as finance and pharmaceuticals, suppliers often need to hold a Cyber Essentials PLUS certification to be onboarded or bid on government contracts that involve sensitive and personal information, such as MoD. This demonstrates the organisation’s dedication to implementing advanced security measures and providing more assurance to clients and partners. Securing a Cyber Essentials certification goes beyond mere formality; it’s a strategic initiative to reinforce your organisation’s cybersecurity posture and sustain customer trust.

    Difference Between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS

    Even though both Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS certifications have the common goal of safeguarding organisations from cyber threats, distinct differences exist between these two levels. The primary distinctions lie in the assessment methods, technical controls, and vulnerability scans.

    cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus

    For example, Cyber Essentials involves a self-assessment process, whereas Cyber Essentials PLUS requires an independent audit conducted by a certification body like Cyphere.

    Assessment Methods: Self-Assessment vs Independent Audit

    In the Cyber Essentials self-assessment, organisations must demonstrate their compliance with the five essential security controls. This process is less rigorous and relies on the honesty and accuracy of the organisation’s responses.

    However, Cyber Essentials PLUS takes it further with an independent audit conducted by a certification body. During this assessment, the base scope is taken from your submission for the Cyber Essentials self-assessment within three months. This audit evaluates the effectiveness of the organisation’s security measures, infrastructure, and controls, providing a more accurate representation of its cybersecurity posture.

    Partnering with a CREST-accredited provider like Cyphere offers additional benefits, such as independent audit approaches and technical expertise.

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    Technical Controls and Vulnerability Scans

    To achieve Cyber Essentials certification, organisations must implement and maintain five technical cyber essentials controls: boundary firewalls and internet gateways, secure configuration, user access control, malware protection, and patch management.

    Cyber Essentials PLUS, on the other hand, requires a more in-depth evaluation, including vulnerability assessments and endpoint protection assessments conducted by an external certification body. Vulnerability scans are crucial in detecting security weaknesses, allowing organisations to take corrective measures before cybercriminals exploit them.

    Organisations can attain a more robust level of cybersecurity assurance with Cyber Essentials PLUS certification by undergoing an independent audit and implementing the required technical controls. This helps protect sensitive data from cyber threats and enhances customer trust and confidence in the organisation’s security measures.

    Costs and Timeframes for Certification

    The costs and timeframes for obtaining Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS certifications vary depending on the certification body and the size of your organisation. Generally, Cyber Essentials certification starts from £300 + VAT and increases based on the organisation’s size. Cyphere offers this for free if you opt for an annual IT health check or penetration testing with us.

    Obtaining Cyber Essentials PLUS certification can be more lengthy and costly, as it involves a more extensive evaluation of your organisation’s security protocols.

    Remember, to maintain your Cyber Essentials certification, it’s necessary to conduct annual reviews for continued compliance with the ever-evolving cybersecurity requirements. This helps keep your organisation up-to-date with the latest security measures and demonstrates your commitment to protecting sensitive data and maintaining customer trust.

    If your objective is Cyber Essentials Plus and you undergo annual pen tests, why not try it with us this year? For your trust, we will ensure CE+ plus is mapped with pen testing to offer cost-effective, quality-focused outputs.

    The Role of Cyber Essentials in Government Contracts

    Cyber Essentials certification has been mandatory for UK government contract bidders since 2014. These contracts often handle sensitive and personal information. This requirement is particularly relevant in highly regulated industries, such as finance, where Cyber Essentials PLUS certification is often a supplier prerequisite. Securing a Cyber Essentials certification allows organisations to display their commitment to data protection and cybersecurity to prospective clients, thereby enhancing their probability of landing lucrative government contracts.

    cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus

    The importance of Cyber Essentials certification in securing government contracts highlights the need for organisations to prioritise their cyber security measures. By implementing the necessary security controls and obtaining certification, organisations can protect their sensitive data and gain a competitive edge when bidding for government contracts and entering regulated industries.

    Achieving Cyber Essentials PLUS Without Prior Cyber Essentials Certification

    An organisation must have a Cyber Essentials certification within three months before applying for Plus certification. It is not mandatory to have Cyber Essentials self-assessment through the same certification body as IASME issues all certificates. Certification bodies are just one vehicle to support the certification scheme. During CE+ discussions, your submission for Cyber Essentials certification will be used as a scope, and any significant deviations will require a new Cyber Essentials certification.

    Cyphere offers cost-effective solutions for organisations seeking to attain Cyber Essentials PLUS certification without first obtaining Cyber Essentials certification. Organisations can streamline the certification process by partnering with a reliable and experienced certification body like Cyphere and ensure they meet the necessary security requirements.

    Cyphere’s economical solutions do more than save organisations time and costs. They also offer the added reassurance of collaborating with a world-class service provider that has streamlined processes to ensure we support your risk identification and remediation phases. By obtaining Cyber Essentials PLUS certification, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to cybersecurity and enhance their reputation among clients and partners.

    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.

    The Certification Process and Selecting a Certification Body

    Obtaining Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS certifications begins with selecting a certification body, such as Cyphere, to assist in the end-to-end certification process. Choosing a dependable and experienced certification body like Cyphere offers numerous advantages, including a streamlined certification process, technical proficiency, and the assurance of working with a CREST-accredited provider.

    cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus

    Collaborating with a trustworthy certification body like Cyphere offers organisations the following benefits:

      • Navigating the intricate certification process
      • Receiving optimum level of support and guidance throughout their cybersecurity journey
      • Enhancing their security posture
      • Achieving their cybersecurity objectives

      Organisations can effectively achieve these goals by working with a world-class service provider like Cyphere.

      Enhancing Cyber Security with Penetration Testing and Security Audits

      Organisations can reinforce cybersecurity measures beyond obtaining Cyber Essentials certification by performing penetration testing and security audits. Cyphere, as a CREST penetration testing provider, offers world-class services to help organisations identify vulnerabilities, replicate cyber attacks, and implement remediation strategies.

      cyber essentials vs cyber essentials plus

      Penetration testing and security audits provide a comprehensive overview of an organisation’s cybersecurity posture, infrastructure, and controls, allowing them to:

          • Identify potential weaknesses and threats that could lead to data leakages, data thefts, privacy issues

          • Access a wealth of expertise and experience

          • Ensure their cybersecurity measures are adequate, up-to-date, and compliant with industry standards

        By partnering with Cyphere, organisations can benefit from these services and ensure the security of their systems.

        Maintaining Your Cyber Essentials Certification

        To maintain a Cyber Essentials certification, organisations must conduct annual reviews and keep abreast of the latest cybersecurity requirements and guidelines issued by the NCSC. This ensures continued compliance with the evolving cybersecurity landscape and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to enhancing its security measures and protecting sensitive data.

        By adhering to the most recent requirements and guidelines, organisations can retain their Cyber Essentials certification and continue to showcase their dedication to data protection and cybersecurity. This, in turn, helps maintain customer trust and confidence in the organisation’s ability to safeguard sensitive information.


        In conclusion, Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS certifications are critical in protecting organisations from cyber threats and maintaining customer trust. By understanding the key differences between the two levels of certification, organisations can make informed decisions regarding their cybersecurity strategy and choose the appropriate certification for their needs.

        With the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, organisations must prioritise their cybersecurity measures and stay ahead. By obtaining Cyber Essentials certification and partnering with a world-class service provider like Cyphere, organisations can safeguard their sensitive data, secure government contracts, and enhance their overall security posture.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        What is the difference between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus?

        Cyber Essentials provides a basic level of assurance, while Cyber Essentials Plus offers an advanced level of assessment and assurance.

        Do I need Cyber Essentials to get Cyber Essentials Plus?

        Yes, you must complete the Cyber Essentials assessment before getting Cyber Essentials Plus. Alternatively, you can do a Cyber Essentials Plus assessment within three months of your last Cyber Essentials certification.

        What is the Cyber Essentials Plus scheme?

        Cyber Essentials Plus is the highest level of certification offered under the Cyber Essentials scheme, providing rigorous tests of an organisation’s cyber security systems through vulnerability scans to protect against basic hacking and other online threats.

        What is the cost of obtaining Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS certifications?

        Cyber Essentials certification starts from £300 + VAT, while the cost of Cyber Essentials PLUS varies depending on the certification body and organisation size. Cyphere offers free Cyber Essentials basic certification if you qualify based on your penetration testing requirements.

        How do penetration testing and security audits enhance cybersecurity measures?

        Penetration testing and security audits help organisations identify weaknesses in their cybersecurity measures, providing a comprehensive view of their overall infrastructure and helping them stay ahead of potential threats.

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

        Cyber Essentials Plus covers five key technical controls and doesn’t deal with organisational areas for security, such as people and processes. ISO 27001 covers many more aspects of security aimed at the entire organisation and is more comprehensive in nature. You can’t interchange and apply either as a replacement for another.

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