Demystifying Cyber Essentials Plus:

The essential guide for businesses

In our ever-connected world, cybersecurity has emerged as a paramount concern for businesses and organisations of all sizes. The rapid evolution of technology has given rise to a parallel growth in cyber threats, making it essential for companies to safeguard their digital infrastructure. Among the various security certifications and frameworks available, one stands out as a reliable guardian: Cyber Essentials Plus.

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What is Cyber Essentials Plus?

Cyber Essentials Plus is a cybersecurity certification program designed to help businesses fortify their digital defences against the ever-present and evolving cyber threats. This certification, recognised and supported by the UK government, is an extension of the baseline Cyber Essentials certification. It goes above and beyond by subjecting an organisation’s systems and processes to a more rigorous evaluation.

To put it simply, Cyber Essentials Plus is like a comprehensive health check for your digital infrastructure. It ensures that your systems are not only minimally secure but also resilient against a wide range of cyberattacks.

The Difference Between Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus

At first glance, Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus might seem similar, but they serve different purposes and offer distinct levels of protection.

Cyber Essentials focuses on the fundamentals of cybersecurity. It provides a foundation for organisations by assessing their security against common online threats. This certification concentrates on five key areas: boundary firewalls and internet gateways, secure configuration, access control, malware protection, and patch management. It’s a valuable entry point for businesses looking to establish a basic level of cybersecurity protection.

On the other hand, Cyber Essentials Plus takes the game up a notch. In addition to assessing the same five areas as the baseline certification, it includes a more thorough examination. A third party certified body conducts on-site testing to ensure that the security controls are effectively implemented and offer real-world protection.

Essentially, the controls for Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus are exactly the same but the level of assurance is different. Cyber Essentials Plus offers a higher level of assurance as the controls have been checked by a third party to ensure they are correctly implemented.

The Benefits of Cyber Essentials Plus

1. Enhanced Security

The primary benefit of achieving Cyber Essentials Plus is a heightened level of security. By going through a more rigorous testing process, organisations can be confident that their systems are better equipped to withstand potential cyberattacks. It’s like having a digital fortress in an age of ever-advancing cyber threats.

2. Reputation and Trust

Having the Cyber Essentials Plus certification is a statement to your clients, partners, and stakeholders that you take cybersecurity seriously. It builds trust and assures them that their data and transactions are in safe hands. In an era where data breaches and cyber incidents can tarnish a company’s reputation, this trust is invaluable.

3. Legal and Regulatory Compliance

In certain industries, compliance with cybersecurity standards is mandatory. Cyber Essentials Plus can help you meet these requirements, ensuring that your business adheres to legal and regulatory guidelines. It’s not just about security; it’s about abiding by the law and protecting your organisation from potential legal repercussions.

4. Competitive Advantage

In a competitive business landscape, having the Cyber Essentials Plus certification can be a differentiator. It shows potential clients and partners that you are committed to their security and sets you apart from businesses that lack this certification.

Is Cyber Essentials Plus worth it?

The decision of whether or not to pursue Cyber Essentials Plus certification depends on a number of factors, including an organisation’s size, sector, and risk profile. For organisations that handle sensitive data, operate in highly regulated industries, or have a strong public presence, Cyber Essentials Plus can be a valuable investment. The certification not only enhances cybersecurity but also demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to data protection and compliance. Other reasons include:

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Investing in cybersecurity is like taking out insurance for your digital assets. It’s far better to prevent a cyberattack than to deal with the aftermath, which can be financially and reputationally devastating. Cyber Essentials Plus helps you establish a robust defence system before an attack occurs.

Avoiding Legal Consequences

Non-compliance with data protection and cybersecurity regulations can result in hefty fines and legal penalties. By achieving Cyber Essentials Plus, you reduce the risk of such laws and regulations.

Meeting Customer Expectations

In an age when customers are increasingly aware of cybersecurity risks, they expect the organisations they deal with to have strong security measures in place. Achieving Cyber Essentials Plus demonstrates your commitment to safeguarding their data and trust.

Staying Competitive

In many industries, clients and partners prefer to work with organisations that have cybersecurity certifications. By attaining Cyber Essentials Plus, you gain a competitive edge in the market.

Who Needs Cyber Essentials Plus?

Cyber Essentials Plus is suitable for any organisation that wants to strengthen its cybersecurity posture. While it is particularly valuable for businesses that handle sensitive data, such as financial institutions and healthcare providers, it’s not limited to them. Any organisation, regardless of its size or industry, can benefit from the protection and assurance that Cyber Essentials Plus provides.

How Blue Saffron Can Help?

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of Cyber Essentials Plus, you might be wondering how to achieve it. This is where managed service providers like Blue Saffron come into play. Blue Saffron is well-versed in cybersecurity and can assist your organisation at every step of the certification process.

Assessment and Gap Analysis

We would start by conducting a thorough assessment of your current security posture. This includes identifying vulnerabilities and gaps that need to be addressed to meet the Cyber Essentials Plus requirements.

Preparation for the On-Site Assessment

One of the critical components of Cyber Essentials Plus is the on-site assessment. Blue Saffron can help you prepare for this assessment, ensuring that your security controls are properly implemented and will pass the scrutiny of the certified bodies.

Implementation of Security Controls

To achieve the certification, you’ll need to implement specific security controls. We would assist in configuring and deploying the necessary measures to secure your digital infrastructure effectively.

Ongoing Monitoring and Support

Cybersecurity is not a one-time effort; it requires continuous monitoring and adjustments. We would provide ongoing support to ensure that your security measures remain robust and up to date.

Real-Life Cases of Cyber Essentials Plus in Action


In 2021, the NHS was able to prevent a ransomware attack by implementing the recommended email security controls under Cyber Essentials Plus. The attack was targeting NHS trusts across England and Scotland, but it was thwarted by the NHS’s robust cybersecurity measures.


In 2022, the Marriott hotel chain was fined £11.4 million by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failing to protect the personal data of its guests. The Marriott had been the victim of a data breach in 2018, in which the personal data of up to 500 million guests was stolen. The ICO found that the Marriott had failed to implement basic cybersecurity measures, such as encrypting sensitive data and using strong passwords.

These examples show that Cyber Essentials Plus can be a valuable tool for organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. By implementing the recommended cybersecurity controls, organisations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyber attacks and protect their valuable data.

To learn more about how Blue Saffron can help keep your business secure and gain Cyber Essentials accreditation? Contact us today or talk to one of our team on 0844 560 0202.