Information Security

Comparing Cybersecurity Standards: CE, Cyber Assurance, and ISO 27001 – Choosing the Right Framework for Your Organisation

With cyber-attacks on small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the rise, it is more important than ever for businesses to acquire the relevant levels of cyber competency to assure customers that their information is safe. But with so many certifications, it can be hard to know which is appropriate for your business, notwithstanding budgetary concerns, and the complexity of technical terminology. 

Though it can be difficult to navigate the options, in this article we delve into the certifications to help you understand what one best maps to your organisation and how each compares. this post to aid in differentiating between the main options and how they compare and map onto one another. 

Why are Certifications Important?

In today’s digital landscape holding certifications to demonstrate your cyber compliance is critical.  Cyber threats are increasing in both quantity and quality, organisations are facing increased risks in regard to data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage, and legal consequences.

Cyber certifications demonstrate that an organisation has implemented effective security measures and best practices to protect sensitive data, systems, and infrastructure from unauthorised access, cyberattacks, and breaches. Providing a level of assurance to stakeholders, customers, and partners that the organisation is committed to maintaining a strong security posture and safeguarding valuable information. 

Certification help to enhances the organisation’s reputation, improves competitiveness, and increases trust among clients and business partners. 

What Certification Could be Right for You?

The certifications that we discuss in this post are not the only cyber certifications on the market, others may be more applicable to your organisation. However the three certifications that we discuss in this blog post demonstrate a clear progression in your security posture, and if an organisation has the appetite creates a great journey to travel. 

Understanding your organisations current position against where you would like to be, as well as the external environments of your operations will help to determine the certification that is right for you. 

Cyber Essentials is a great starting point for businesses, followed by Cyber Assured for further progression, and ISO 27001 for rigorous systems and processes. Each certification carries its own benefits and requirements. ISO 27001, in particular, is recognised internationally as the gold standard for cybersecurity, demonstrating a commitment to information security and providing a competitive advantage. Let’s take a deeper look at each certification mentioned above. 

Cyber Essentials (CE)

Cyber Essentials is a government backed scheme accredited by IASME via their certification bodies. At its core CE is the basic principles of security, demonstrating that your organisation is considering cyber security threats and employing measures to secure against them.

The Cyber Essentials accreditation is broken down into two stages, Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. But what does that mean? 

Cyber Essentials is a self-assessment reviewed by a third-party certification body like CyberCrowd who follow a strict mark scheme to ensure compliance with the standard, upon successful grading, the CE badge is awarded. Cyber Essentials is an excellent first step toward securing your business against malicious cyber threats. Cyber Essentials is growing in its popularity and can be deemed as a mandatory requirement in some sectors. 

Cyber Essentials Plus (CE+)

Cyber Essentials Plus takes a deeper look at you CE submission, giving greater credibility due to the external verification or audit that takes place. A certification body will come in and validate the answers give in you Cyber Essentials submission, this is down both via scans and manual checks on user devices. In order to qualify for CE+ you must obtain CE; you have 90 days from the issue of this cert to achieve CE+. 

CE is a prerequisite to the attainment of CE+ but progressing onto Plus will give your organisation greater credibility due to the external verification required for certification. An IASME certified body will not only review your declarations but conduct an independent security audit and engage in vulnerability testing, writing a detailed report that highlights any identified vulnerabilities or areas of concern. Once these are remedied, the CE+ badge may be awarded. 

Cyber Assurance

The IASME Cyber Assurance standard (formally IASME Governance) was created to be both affordable and achievable compared to other international standards. The standard enables small businesses in a supply chain to demonstrate their degree of cyber protection at a reasonable expense, demonstrating that they are adequately protecting their customers’ data. 

The IASME Cyber Assurance standard requires a Cyber Essentials certificate to be held throughout your IASME Cyber Assurance certification, there are two levels to this assessment; Level1 Verified Assessment and Level2 Audited assessment which carries international recognition. 

The standard shows that there are a range of data protection and cyber security measures in place.

Level 1: Verified Assessment 

A risk-oriented standard and covers ensuring best practise in core areas of security such as; Incident Management, Personnel Recruitment, and Planning and Operations. 

The process – organisations access a secure portal to answer roughly 160 questions about their security. This assessment is then marked by a certification body and a pass or fail is returned to the organisation. 

Level 2: Audited 

IASME Cyber Assurance Level 2 covers 13 themes across 4 areas of controls: 

  • Identify and Classify 
  • Protect
  • Detect and Deter 
  • Respond and Recover

Level 2 has a comparable degree of assurance to the globally recognised ISO 27001 standard, but it is much easier to implement.

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is commonly regarded as the gold standard for cyber security. Recognised internationally, it outlines specific requirements for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continued improving of an information security management system (ISMS), within organisations. 

ISO/IEC 27001 is made up of 4 key themes; Organisational, People, Process and Technology, 93 controls helping to address the evolving information and cyber security landscape and 5 attributes; control type, information security properties, cyber security concepts, operational capabilities, and security domains. 

ISO 27001 can help to provide a competitive advantage by demonstrating a commitment to information security to customers, partners, and regulatory bodies. Having an ISO 27001 certification can instil trust and confidence in stakeholders, assuring them that the organisation follows best practices and takes information security seriously. Additionally, ISO 27001 fosters a culture of continuous improvement, as it requires regular monitoring, auditing, and updating of the ISMS, ensuring that security controls remain effective and up to date in the face of evolving threats. 

ISO 27001 is a valuable tool for businesses to protect their sensitive information, build trust with stakeholders, and establish a proactive approach to information security management. As a consequence time, resource, and unsurprisingly money is required for organisations to successfully achieve and maintain the accreditation. 

Overall, certifications play a vital role in demonstrating an organisation’s commitment to implementing effective security measures and best practices. They provide assurance to stakeholders, customers, and partners that sensitive data, systems, and infrastructure are protected from unauthorised access and cyberattacks. Certification enhances an organisation’s reputation, competitiveness, and trustworthiness among clients and business partners. 

While the certifications discussed in this article—Cyber Essentials, Cyber Assured, and ISO 27001—offer a clear progression in security posture, it’s important to evaluate your organisation’s current position and external environment to determine the most suitable certification. Certifications in cyber compliance are essential for organisations to mitigate risks, protect valuable assets, and build trust in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Get in touch today if you are looking to get certified, would like to better understand what certification is right for you, or alternatively if you would like to understand how CyberCrowd can help.