Cyber Essentials as a standard is now starting to mature, with almost 3,000 certifications now reported.
Cyber Essentials is largely a one-size-fits-all. You are either compliant, or you are not (with a small bit of “comply or explain” wriggle room). This is good for the purpose it was intended, and serves a baseline for all businesses.
This is now mandated for UK Government procurement, but when assessed for use in the Ministry of Defence’s supply chain it was considered the essentials were not enough.
The challenge however is different elements of the supply chain needed greater or lesser security. The solution being trailed is called the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP) Cyber Security Model (CSM).
The model describes 4 risk levels, from Very Low up to High (plus a Not Applicable). For each of these a set of mandatory security controls is defined. Even at the Very Low end, Cyber Essentials is required. The higher the risk, the tighter the expected level of control.
Referring to my blog “The importance of having an Asset List”, it’s interesting to note that only at the Medium risk grade is an asset list mandatory – in the blog I argue you find the lower levels hard to do without one.
At the highest end of the CSM, there are controls such as “Proactively verify that the security controls are providing the intended level of security”; i.e., implementing security is not enough – you need to be able to demonstrate your controls are working.
The CSM approach is very much a ladder, you move up rung by rung from Cyber Essentials.
For something more bespoke and comprehensive there is the ISO 27001 based approach, in which you:
- identify the business’s security objectives;
- determine the risks;
- then select a set of controls to mitigate those risks.
Effectively an a-la-carte approach to customise a solution, all wrapped in a security management system.
Within your business, you need to take control and determine the appropriate level of security, but please don’t be paralysed by indecision – at the very least start a Cyber Essentials programme.