Cyber Essentials Plus Requirements

For enterprises of all sizes, the risk of cyber threats looms large, necessitating robust systems and consistent vigilance. At the forefront of this defence is the Cyber Essentials Plus scheme, a benchmark for basic cybersecurity that is neither too complex nor too costly for any organisation to implement.

Here, we will break down exactly what’s involved in obtaining Cyber Essentials Plus certification. Whether you’re a small business looking to establish a solid cybersecurity framework or a larger entity aiming to enhance your risk posture, understanding these requisites is the first step towards a more secure digital operation.


Initiated by the UK government in 2014, the Cyber Essentials scheme was designed to guide organizations in protecting the integrity of their data. Achieving the basic Cyber Essentials certification validates that your company has implemented fundamental security measures against common cyber threats. Cyber Essentials Plus, its more rigorous sibling, involves an independent assessment of the measures you've deployed, providing a higher level of assurance to your customers and stakeholders.

The Incentive for Cyber Essentials Plus

While Cyber Essentials (CE) can be a self-assessment, CE Plus requires a hands-on verification process by an external certifying body. The ‘Plus’ certification is a proactive step demonstrating to insurers and clients that your company takes its cyber hygiene seriously. This not only strengthens your ability to withstand cyber incidents but also improves your credibility in the market.

Understanding Cyber Essentials Plus Criteria

The criteria for Cyber Essentials Plus are more intense and demanding than those for the basic Cyber Essentials certification. Here we outline the specific requirements and suggest practical measures to meet them.

Secure Configuration

A robust security configuration reduces the surface area available for attackers to exploit. For Cyber Essentials Plus, this means implementing and rigorously testing network security. Regular network security testing can evaluate the security posture of your company and identify potential vulnerabilities before cyber criminals do.

User Access Control

Managing user access is integral to cybersecurity. Cyber Essentials Plus focuses on the control and management of user privileges, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access network resources and sensitive information. Regularly reviewing users' access rights can help in maintaining data integrity and reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Malware Protection

Effective protection against malware, such as viruses, worms, and spyware, is a critical aspect of Cyber Essentials Plus. Employing robust anti-malware solutions and ensuring they are up to date goes a long way in preventing potentially devastating cyber incidents.

Patch Management

The timely application of security patches, particularly for critical systems and software, is essential. By patching vulnerabilities, you can ensure that your systems are protected from the latest cyber threats. Implementing a strict patch management process can safeguard your organization from avoidable security breaches.

Internet Gateways

Although the internet is a business lifeline, it is also a gateway for many cyber threats. Cyber Essentials Plus emphasizes securing your internet gateways. Measures such as strong firewalls and access controls can prevent unauthorized or malicious access, protecting your network assets.

Preparing for the Cyber Essentials Plus Assessment

Before undergoing the Cyber Essentials Plus assessment, it’s essential to prepare your organisation and familiarize your team with the process.

Internal Readiness

Internal readiness involves ensuring that all required security measures are in place and well-documented. This includes obtaining valid reports on patching status, anti-virus implementation, and access control configuration.

Staff Training

Human error is often the weakest link in the security chain. Staff training and awareness are vital components of the Cyber Essentials Plus compliance. Regular workshops on security best practices and threat awareness can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidental breaches.

Selecting the Right Certification Body

The choice of certification body is crucial. It should be an approved body with skilled assessors who understand your business sector and the unique challenges it faces, such as Cyber Compliance. This will ensure a thorough and useful assessment process that adds value to your overall security posture.

The Cyber Essentials Plus Assessment Process

The assessment process for Cyber Essentials Plus includes internal and external testing, which may include a simulated cyber-attack. This is to validate that your organization can defend against common online threats.

Internal Review

During the internal review, the certification body will examine the in-scope end user devices, mobile devices and servers. This will include an authenticated vulnerability assessment. Further testing will be conducted to ensure compliance with the Cyber Essentials Plus standard, such as Multi Factor Authentication enforcement for cloud applications.

External Testing

The external testing will involve an independent assessment of your organisation's systems and applications. This may include port scans and to identify any weaknesses in your external-facing IT infrastructure.

Benefits Beyond Compliance

While achieving the Cyber Essentials Plus certification is a rigorous process, the benefits extend far beyond mere compliance.

Enhanced Reputation

Attaining this certification exhibits a commitment to cybersecurity, enhancing your reputation among peers, customers, and prospective clients. It serves as a visible testament to your company’s dedication to data protection and confidentiality.

Competitive Differentiation

In a marketplace where data breaches are commonplace, having the Cyber Essentials Plus badge can set you apart from competitors. It asserts your readiness to securely undertake business transactions and manage sensitive client information.

Strengthened Cyber Resilience

By reinforcing security measures and response capabilities, your organization can weather cyber incidents more effectively. This leads to reduced downtime, minimized financial losses, and maintained customer trust.

Navigating the Cost of Cyber Essentials Plus

One might apprehend that the cost of Cyber Essentials Plus is a deterrent. Yet, when weighed against the potential damages arising from a data breach, the investment is negligible. The real cost of certification pales in comparison to the legal and reputational ramifications of a serious cyber-attack.

Cost-Effective Preparation

Though the process itself may seem costly, the necessary security measures often lead to long-term cost savings. For instance, the consolidation of security setups can reduce operating expenses, and the prevention of data breaches lessens financial and legal risks.

Strategic Investment

Seeing the certification process as a strategic investment rather than a financial burden can alter the perspective. This perspective shift focuses attention on the returns in the form of improved security, customer assurance, and operational efficiency.

The Final Assessment and Beyond

After the Cyber Essentials Plus assessment is completed, and your organisation is certified, maintaining the same high level of cybersecurity is critical. Regular monitoring, updating of policies and measures, and continuous staff training will help ensure that your company stays ahead of the curve.

Post-Assessment Maintenance

Following a successful assessment, your organisation is responsible for maintaining the compliance framework. This involves staying vigilant, updating systems, and continuously improving your security strategy.

Ongoing Commitment

Commitment to cybersecurity should be pervasive, from the boardroom to every employee. Ongoing investment and attention will ensure that your company’s digital assets remain secure and its reputation untarnished.


Cybersecurity has transitioned from a technical concern to a pressing strategic priority. For businesses looking to fortify their digital defences, Cyber Essentials Plus is a logical starting point. It provides a structured approach to cybersecurity that, when diligently followed, can significantly reduce risk, and reassure stakeholders.

In partnering with Cyber Compliance (an entity of NeedSec Limited), businesses gain access to a tailored, expert-driven approach to Cyber Essentials Plus. With a focus on practicality and cost-effectiveness, we facilitate the integration of cybersecurity without disruption. 

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