Cyber Essentials Plus

Cyber Essentials Plus involves an audit of your system by one of the trained assessors. They are involved to confirm that all controls that have been declared in Cyber Essentials are implemented within the organisation's network. This is done by undertaking and completing Cyber Essentials Plus,it is your choice whether to declare publicly to your supply chain and customers that your organisation has been proven to meet Cyber Essentials baseline standards which enables you to interact with clients, business partners and staff confidently and securely.

There some key elements of cyber essentials plus audit which can be summarised as follows:

  • An assessor will pick a sample of computers at your organisation (up to 5 of each type of machine depending on scale of your network) and perform an audit to ensure that the devices are configured as per the scheme.
  • A vulnerability scan will be performed on these machines to confirm patching and basic configuration is at an acceptable level.
  • An external port scan of your internet facing IP addresses will be conducted to ensure no clear and obvious misconfigurations or vulnerabilities can be identified.
  • A test will be conducted on your default email/internet browser to confirm how well configured they are to prevent execution of fake malicious files.
  • Screenshots will be taken as evidence that the system is Cyber Essentials compliant.

How to Prepare and Pass Cyber Essentials Plus

Baseline Assessment

The whole process begins by assessing where your organisation is currently at in terms of the five technical security controls. But what are the five technical controls? We have written more extensively about the standards you need to meet to achieve Cyber Essentials PLUS certification, but below is a brief overview:

  • Use a firewall to secure not just your internet connection but the whole system also. A firewall is like a safety barrier that protects your network and devices from unwanted incoming traffic, for example spam emails. It is more than likely you already have a firewall in place, but this initial assessment will test to see how effective the firewall has been.
  • Choose the most secure settings for your software and devices. New software and devices are usually designed to be open and easy to use. It’s up to you to implement secure settings. This assessment will check to see whether you are using passwords to protect your devices and files, and if you’ve cleared out any unnecessary apps that could pose a risk.
  • You are able to control who has access to your data and services. This security measure aims to limit the access attackers have if they breached your system. Think of your organisation a bit like MI5 – access to data and services should be on a ‘needs to know’ basis to minimise the potential harm an attacker could do.
  • Protect yourself from viruses and other malware. Cyber Essentials PLUS requires that you are taking anti-malware and spyware measures, such as installing Windows Defender, and/or sandboxing and/or white listing.
  • Keep all your devices and software up to date. The regular updates that are fed through to your devices don’t just fix bugs; they increase security. Keeping all devices and software up to date is a requirement of Cyber Essentials PLUS once these steps have been taken you can then move on to step two.

Vulnerability Scans

A vulnerability scan does exactly what it says on the tin – it scans your information system to find vulnerabilities. It is looking for weaknesses in your cyber security that a hacker could exploit in order to launch an attack on your system.

Vulnerability scans are typically automated, using software to highlight areas of concern.

They seek out known flaws – missing software patches or weaknesses that have already been identified in the industry – and suggest remediation.

However, vulnerability scans cannot find flaws that are not already widely known in the cyber security world. They shouldn’t be thought of as foolproof.

It’s possible to purchase this software and carry out the scan yourself. Of course, the benefit of Cyber Essentials PLUS – apart from having someone else do the heavy lifting – is that you put all this in the hands of experts who know exactly what they are looking for and what to do with what they find.

Analyse the Gap

At this stage, the job is to detail the gap between where your system currently is – as identified by steps 1 and 2 – and where it needs to be. Having identified what the weaknesses are, what work needs to be done to close the gap and secure your system?

The vulnerability scan may suggest remediation measures, but don’t forget you may also be falling short on the five technical controls in other ways – limiting user access, adding password protection, for examples – that will not show up in the vulnerability scan results. The gap analysis will indicate all of the gaps, both physical and virtual.

Statement of Work

Based on the findings of the gap analysis, it’s time to create a Statement of Works (SOW).

This will detail exactly what action is to be taken to close up the gaps discovered in step 3. A SOW should include not only the required remediation, but also the resources needed to carry out the work.

This may include everything from time out for staff meetings to run through cyber security best practice, to the creation of a white list, to software and device upgrades and everything in between. It’s in your interest to have as comprehensive a plan as possible to ensure there are no surprises once the work begins.

Implement the Required Actions

Having created your SOW, it’s time to carry it out.

Though Cyber Essentials PLUS might seem like an ‘IT thing’, it impacts the whole organisation and requires buy-in across the board to make it work. Cyber Essentials PLUS isn’t just about software and data. It’s about understanding best practice and achieving it in action.

Your Cyber Essentials PLUS partner should be able to help you with every aspect of certification, including any necessary training. Be prepared to give this step the necessary time. Failure to carry out the works in full will undo the hard work you’ve put in up to now.


This step tests how successful your remediation works have been by performing another vulnerability scan. The initial assessment from step 1 will also be repeated to ensure that you now meet all aspects of the five technical controls, including limiting user access, securing with passwords, etc.

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification

Provided the re-assessment is successful, congratulations are in order! You have achieved Cyber Essentials PLUS certification. Well done.

Cyber Essentials certification requires patches to be implemented within two weeks of being available. This principle extends to the certification itself, which must be completed within 14 days.

The government recommends that Cyber Essentials certification is renewed annually. But there’s no doubt that the first certificate is the most complicated and once best practice is implemented it is much easier to prove compliance going forward.

To Conclude

In conclusion, cyber essential plus is required to help your network keep all your personal information safe from cybercriminals. As long as you follow all the required steps that are stated above you should be safe and secure in your network of choice. This is also an extension to cyber essentials which covers everything in that topic.