Practical Cyber Defences for Your Business: How to Get Started on Improving Your Business’s Cyber Security

Cyber security is an increasingly fundamental part of conducting business in a digital world. As cyber security becomes increasingly enshrined by regulatory bodies and as an essential priority, businesses are moving towards building truly robust cyber security postures that can protect their operations, sensitive data, clients and partners. In the first piece of an accessible four-part series on building practical cyber defences for your business, we will outline the growing importance of cultivating cyber defences in your business, and how to get started through two frameworks: Microsoft’s Secure Score, and the UK’s Cyber Essentials Scheme.  

The Increasing Importance of Cyber Security Today

Cyber security is not only necessary for protection, but also for success and tapping into advantageous benefits. For example, the UK’s Cyber Essentials scheme is a necessary requirement for bidding for government contracts and can be used as social proof as well as for securing lower cyber insurance premiums.  

Cyber security threats are a daily reality for most businesses, with a 2022 report from the UK government finding that 31% of businesses experience a cyber-attack at least once a week. When these attacks are successful, they can have considerable costs to your reputation, business continuity, and client relationships, with the report finding the average cost of each successful attack to be around £4’200, with this average rising to £19’400 for medium and large sized businesses.

For businesses seeking to maximise the opportunities that cyber defences have to offer, while minimising risks, getting started with building a cyber-secure posture is essential. To get started, you can begin with two accessible frameworks, Microsoft Secure Score, and Cyber Essentials.  

What is Cyber Essentials and how can it help my business?  

Introduced in 2014 to promote key cyber security practices in the UK, the UK Cyber Essentials scheme provides a certified cyber security framework for UK businesses. It is broken down into Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus, which has additional requirements for certification. Here we will focus on Cyber Essentials, which requires the application of five key cyber security controls:  

  1. Secure Configuration: Ensuring that computers and network devices are configured securely with appropriate security settings, minimising any vulnerabilities that they can present.  
  1. Boundary Firewalls & Internet Gateways: Using firewalls and internet gateways (devices that regulate inbound and outbound traffic to your organisation’s network) to protect your network from unauthorized access and cyberattacks.
  1. User Access Control: Entails creating permissioned accessed controls to prevent unauthorised parties from accessing your data and network, such as establishing user access permissions on a ‘need to know’ basis, password policies, and multi-factor authentication.
  1. Malware Protection: Deploying and maintaining anti-virus solutions on all devices across your organization, preventing malware from compromising your networks and data.  
  1. Patch Management: Creating a robust process for applying security patches to software and devices in a timely way, ensuring that the latest security updates are being applied in your organization against emerging cyber threats.  

By applying these five key controls across your business, you will not only align it more with other regulatory requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but also create a foundation for a cyber secure posture across your business. A business can apply for certification independently, or via partnering with a Manager Service Provider that can offer guidance, support and implementation solutions.  

What is Microsoft Secure Score and how can it help my business?  

Whereas Cyber Essentials is a platform-agnostic scheme, Microsoft Secure Score is a particular tool for businesses that use Microsoft 365. In a nutshell, Microsoft Secure Score focuses on creating quantifiable improvements in the cyber security posture of Microsoft 365 environments.  

Accessed via Microsoft’s Defender platform, Secure Score is a tool that surveys a business’s Microsoft 365 environment, includes its users, configuration settings, and access controls, to provide a personalised cyber security score alongside actionable recommendations for improving it. An accessible tool, it can help businesses to make headway into a more cyber secure environment and to document and analyse its progress.  

In our next articles, we will delve into each of these in more detail, with a particular practical focus on the UK Cyber Essentials scheme. Using either or both tools, you can create a firm foundation for their cyber security, protecting your business from a range of typical cyber security threats that are at play today.  

Secure Your Business with Our Cyber Gap Assessment Service

Unsure of the integrity of your cyber security posture? Want to secure your business and get Cyber Essentials ready at the same time? Our Cyber Gap Assessment service provides an in-depth audit of your IT environment, giving clear guidance on your vulnerabilities and actionable insights to address them. We will also provide an affordable, accessible and actionable plan that is tailored to your business, enabling you to secure your digital premises, without breaking the bank. Ready to get truly cyber secure? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.  

Getting Started with Cyber Essentials and Microsoft Secure Score

Both Cyber Essentials and Microsoft Secure Score are accessible ways for non-technical users to drive improvements, but how do you get started?  

Firstly, to make headway on the road to assured cyber security, you will need to map your digital territory. Microsoft Secure Score can map your Microsoft 365 environment for you, offering a range of recommendations based on its assessments. While overall these recommendations will be accessible, some will be simpler to implement than others.  

It’s also worth remembering that while it’s highly useful, Secure Score is not a silver bullet for protecting your business, owing to its limited focus and the complexity of cyber security. This said, it’s a great way to identify vulnerabilities and to get a roadmap for driving improvements quickly.  

For Cyber Essentials, the process of mapping your cyber security posture is more manual, as it is a platform-agnostic framework. To get certified under the Cyber Essentials scheme, getting a lay of the land over your IT environment and comparing how it stands with the requirements of each of the key controls will enable your business to address the gaps. Our final article in this series goes into more detail on the requirements and actions that you can take to meet them.  


Getting started with creating a firm cyber security foundation has never been more important, and accessible. Using the Cyber Essentials framework and Microsoft Security Score, businesses can align their IT environments with cyber security best practices and remain protected against cyber security threats. On the flipside, this also opens a world of opportunity, including boosting competitiveness, accessing lower cyber insurance premiums, and assuring compliance with more ease and clarity. In our next pieces, we will provide more detail into these two frameworks, how they work, and how to secure your business using them.  

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