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ISO 27001 VS Cyber Essentials | Navigating Your Information Security Path

Created by:
Ravena Jandu

Posted On:

The importance of robust cyber security measures cannot be overstated. As cyber threats continue to evolve, businesses must prioritise the protection of their information assets. Obtaining security accreditations not only enhances your organisation’s defences but also builds trust with customers and stakeholders. Two of the most recognised frameworks for cyber security accreditation are Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001. Let’s explore their differences and how to determine which certification is right for your business.

Cyber Essentials: An overview

Cyber Essentials is a UK government backed scheme designed to help organisations of all sizes protect themselves against the most common cyber threats. It focuses on five key technical controls to safeguard IT infrastructure:

  • Firewalls – monitoring and controlling network traffic to safeguard against unauthorised access and threats.
  • Secure configuration – ensuring systems are configured securely to reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Access control – ensuring that only authorised users have access to system and data.
  • Malware protection – implementing measures to prevent malware infections.
  • Patch management – keeping software and systems up to date to mitigate vulnerabilities.

Cyber Essentials certification is available at two levels: Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. The first level, Cyber Essentials, involves a self-assessment questionnaire that is verified by an external certifying body. Cyber Essentials Plus, on the other hand, is a more rigorous assessment that includes an on-site audit and external vulnerability testing.

ISO 27001: An overview

ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard that provides a comprehensive framework for managing information security, aiming to help organisations protect their information assets and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. Unlike Cyber Essentials, ISO 27001 is technology-neutral, meaning that it focuses on best practices and principles that can be applied universally, regardless of the technologies in use.

Key aspects of ISO 27001 include the creation, implementation, operation, monitoring, review, maintenance, and improvement of Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). The standard encompasses 114 controls across 14 categories.

Key differences between ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials

While both Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 aim to enhance an organisation’s security posture, they differ in a number of ways:


Cyber Essentials primarily focuses on protecting IT infrastructure, such as networks and devices, against common cyber threats. In contrast, ISO 27001 provides a holistic approach – protecting of all forms of sensitive data, whether digital or physical.


Cyber Essentials is a compliance-based standard, meaning it ensures that specific technical measures are in place and that an organisation adheres to a predefined set of requirements. However, ISO 27001 is a risk-based standard, which means it focuses on identifying, assessing, and managing risks to information security, and emphasises the continuous improvement of information security processes to address evolving threats.

Requirements and implementation

Cyber Essentials involves implementing five specific technical controls and can often be achieved within a few weeks. In contrast, ISO 27001 requires the establishment of an ISMS, covering 114 controls under 14 categories, and typically takes several months to fully implement.


Cyber Essentials is a UK government backed scheme and nationally recognised, whereas ISO 27001 is internationally recognised.

Which certification is right for your business?

Both Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 offer significant benefits and can complement each other. Businesses may wish to achieve both certifications. However, deciding which certification to pursue first depends on your organisation’s specific needs and circumstances.

For UK businesses, beginning with Cyber Essentials can be a strategic choice. It ensures that basic cyber security measures are in place, protecting them from the most common cyber threats such as malware, phishing, and hacking attempts. This certification provides a solid foundation for further improvements in cyber security. The simplicity of Cyber Essentials makes it accessible for organisations of any size.

For businesses looking for a higher level of assurance and a comprehensive approach to information security, progressing to ISO 27001 may be beneficial. It is particularly suitable for companies operating globally or those handling sensitive information. ISO 27001’s rigorous framework helps in meeting international regulatory requirements and enhances overall security posture.

Obtaining security accreditations like Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001 is crucial for protecting your business. While Cyber Essentials is a great starting point for ensuring fundamental cyber security practices, ISO 27001 offers a more holistic, detailed, and risk-based approach to information security. By considering your organisation’s needs and goals, you can choose the right framework to enhance your security and build trust with your customers, partners, and stakeholders.

Our team of experts can guide you through the process of becoming Cyber Essentials certified and help you implement any necessary security measures.

If you have any questions about the scheme and how you can become certified, you can contact us on 03300 245447 or email

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