The Government approved Cyber Essentials scheme includes five technical controls that help protect organisations from the majority of cyber-attacks. A team of experts review the scheme at regular intervals to ensure it stays effective in the ever-evolving threat landscape.
The scheme was introduced by the UK Government in 2014 as a way to help make the UK the safest place to do business. On January 24th 2022, some of the technical control requirements will change in line with recommended security updates. The evolution of Cyber Essentials allows UK businesses to continue raising the bar for their cyber security.
So, what are the changes? To simplify the changes, we have created this short video that highlights what is now in and out of scope.
Cyber Essentials must now include end point devices: The scope of an organisation must include end-user devices - If an organisation certifies their server systems only, they ignore the threats that come from their administrators who administered those server systems. The change to this requirement closes the loophole where organisations were able to certify their company without including any end user devices.
All high and critical updates must be applied within 14 days and remove unsupported software. All software on in scope devices must be:
Licensed and supported
Removed from devices when it becomes un-supported or removed from scope by using a defined ‘sub-set’ that prevents all traffic to/from the internet.
Have automatic updates enabled where possible.
Updated, including applying any manual configuration changes required to make the update effective, within 14 days of an update being released, where:
Ø The update fixes vulnerabilities described by the vendor as ‘critical’ or ‘high risk’
Ø The update addresses vulnerabilities with a CVSS v3 score of 7 or above
Ø There are no details of the level of vulnerabilities the update fixes provide by the vendor
Previously, there was a set criteria that the vulnerabilities which had to be applied had to meet which were laid out in the requirements. These criteria have now been dropped and organisations need to apply all high and critical updates on all their systems. This is raising the bar because organisations can no longer be selective about which patches they apply and leave themselves weak and vulnerable.
Two additional tests have been added to the cyber essentials plus audit, they are:
A test to confirm account separation between user and administration accounts
A test to confirm multi-factor authentication is required for access to cloud services.
When will the changes apply?
There will be a grace period of one year to allow organisations to make the changes for the following requirements:
MFA for Cloud Services
The requirement will apply for administrator accounts from January 2022
The MFA for users requirement will be marked for compliance from January 2023
Thin Clients need to be supported and receiving security updates, the requirement will be marked for compliance from January 2023
The new question will be for information only for first 12 months.
Security Update Management