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Magda On Cyber

Cyber Essentials mark: What is it and Why it is Critical for Your Business

Cyber Essentials mark: What is it and Why it is Critical for Your Business

Asia is facing an unprecedented incidence of cyberattacks, with 56% of SMEs in the region reporting having suffered a cyber incident in the past 12 months and 84% feeling exposed to cyber threats [WSL1] .

Singapore’s success in adopting new technologies brings with it tremendous opportunities and, along with it, significant cyber risk. With the proliferation of supply chain attacks, organizations are only as secure as their weakest link. Therefore, your organization must adopt good cyber practices, not just to keep yourself safe, but also to ensure the security of the entire ecosystem.

Singapore is Taking a Stand

To maintain our competitive edge and continue to be a prime location where global businesses will want to site their headquarters, Singapore cannot afford to have a passive approach to cybersecurity.

To help enterprises shore up cybersecurity, reduce risk and ensure business continuity and resilience, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) has developed the SG Cyber Safe Programme. This government-backed scheme looks at cybersecurity certification for enterprises — Cyber Essentials and Cyber Trust marks.

This article will focus on the former, a foundation-level certification that validates if the organization in question has adopted the baseline cybersecurity measures required to safeguard its systems and operations from common cyberattacks such as phishing emails and more.

Note: CSA’s Cyber Essential mark is not to be confused with UK’s National Cyber Security Centre Cyber Essential, an IT security standard.

As of 1 October 2022, a company can be fined up to 10% of its annual turnover in Singapore or $1 million, whichever is higher, in the unfortunate event of a data breach. This is a crippling price to pay for SMEs with limited resources and budget, and an exorbitantly high one to pay for miscalculating one’s cybersecurity preparedness.

How Is Cybersecurity Preparedness Determined?

The Cyber Essentials mark takes away the guesswork. Organizations that are accredited with the mark are generally well-prepared by industry standards as the certification effectively signals that their products, people, and management systems have been tested, calibrated, inspected, validated and verified.

In theory at least, these organisations should be able to thwart the vast majority of low level cyberattacks which relatively unskilled individuals typically carry out.

What’s in it for You?

1. Having the Cyber Essentials mark is an attestation to your business credibility.

It gives stakeholders assurance that your organization is sufficiently prepared to deal with cyberattacks and to mitigate the resultant impact on them arising from data breaches and service disruptions. If you can assuage their concerns better than your competitors, you have gained a competitive advantage that is bound to open new doors for your business, perhaps even at the regional level.

2. It also lets consumers know that their personal data is in good hands with your organisation.

Much like the food safety licensing framework that serves to indicate to customers that the food from said food retail establishment is safe for consumption, the Cyber Essentials mark will signal to customers whether the company whose services they are about to engage have good cybersecurity measures in place to protect their email, date of birth, credit card details, and other information.

3. Accreditation is time- and cost-efficient in the long run.

An increasing number of corporations are beginning to focus heavily on cybersecurity, requiring their third parties and suppliers to certify that they are cyber secure to protect themselves against cyberattacks. These ad hoc certifications are costly and time-consuming; the Cyber Essentials mark provides this certification with a two-year validity period.

Ensuring that your current approach to cybersecurity conforms to nationally recognized standards is easy with CSA’s Cyber Essentials mark. The scheme provides a framework for simplifying cybersecurity by:

• Establishing five priority areas to focus on, which help you to identify your organization’s cybersecurity gaps

• Providing guidelines and detailing processes that are easy to follow and implement

• Recommending cybersecurity products and solutions to help you get started in your cybersecurity certification journey

Why Start Now?

Obtaining the Cyber Essentials mark is currently optional but highly encouraged; CSA has worked with the relevant certification bodies to offer successful applicants discounted certification fees[WSL2] up till 31 March 2023.

Evidently, the Cyber Essentials mark is poised to be an important certification to achieve for businesses of all sizes in Singapore in time to come. If you don’t know where to begin, we have just thing for you.

Come Join the Discussion! [WSL3]

Responsible Cyber founder, Dr. Magda Chelly will discuss with Dave Klein from Cymulate what it takes to obtain the Cyber Essentials mark.

📅 20 September, Tuesday

🕛 11am SGT


Cyber Essentials mark




Edited by Wen Sin LIM and Shareen SONG.

By Magda Chelly

Chief Security Officer | TEDx Speaker | Author & Keynote Speaker | IFSEC Global Top 20 Cybersecurity Influencer | Entrepreneur | PhD, S-CISO, CISSP, Cert SCI (General Insurance)

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Magda’s research topics have been focusing on cybersecurity, the future of localisation and positioning, education and more. Her research works and writings around cybersecurity have been featured by IEEE, RSA Conference, CYBERSEC, World Congress on Internet Security..

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