Whichever sector you operate in, new data protection law makes it a legal requirement that you assess the risks to your IT systems and services. Your journey to compliance should therefore start with a thorough assessment of your current IT and data environment.
To help organisations of all sizes get off to the right start on their compliance journeys, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recently launched its own information security self-assessment tool.
The questions contained within the tool are a great starting point for anyone feeling lost in today’s increasingly complex compliance environment. But it is important to remember that they are exactly that—just a starting point.
Self-assessment tools of this kind are certainly valuable for getting IT and business teams thinking about the right kinds of areas before they embark on a major compliance project (especially when they are created and published by relevant government bodies like the ICO). However, they also highlight and reaffirm that there really is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to data and security compliance.
Asking the right questions for your organisation isn’t just important for ensuring you take the right steps towards compliance. It also plays an important role in making sure you can provide clear evidence of your efforts and the reasoning behind them—something that’s essential for achieving and maintaining accreditations such as Cyber Essentials.
When it comes to truly understanding what you need and the best actions to get you there, there is no substitute for a robust and objective technical cyber security assessment, conducted by an independent third party.
Here are five reasons why:
1. You can benefit from deep expertise and objectivity
When you assess your own systems and IT environment, it is easy to not see the wood for the trees.
An expert assessment partner is capable of doing something your internal IT team will never be able to: to look at your current environment objectively, from an outsider’s perspective.
They’ll treat your assessment the same way they treat anyone else’s, mapping your current issues against government-recognised best practices to give you an unbiased and verifiable view of what you really need to do to achieve compliance.
2. They make it easy to demonstrate and prove your compliance efforts
Your ability to provide evidence and demonstrate the steps you have taken to protect data and secure your environment is a critical part of compliance.
When you work with an assessment partner, they will provide you with a detailed breakdown of their conclusions, with deep information on how they reached them. So, if your security and protection actions are ever officially called into question, you will have a complete and reliable record of why you took the steps you did.
They will also be able to present their findings in a way that is easily understandable for both IT professionals and non-IT stakeholders. With a high-level report that explains your priorities in clear language, and a more detailed look at your specific technical needs, everyone gains a clear picture of what really needs to happen next.
3. They will set you on a path towards Cyber Essentials Certification
When you engage with a professional assessment partner, their assessments will be based on a set of established standards and best practices.
For example, at 9ine our assessments incorporate and have been shaped by the NCSC’s 10 steps to cyber security, so the organisations we work with know that the recommendations we provide them with will help them move towards Cyber Essentials Certification.
4. They will help you build up a complete picture of risk – and prioritise your actions
Because your chosen partner’s assessment is objective, they will provide you with a look at your critical risks. This can help you to prioritise resources and make more informed decisions about which actions to take first.
In line with point #2, this risk analysis can be used to evidence back how you have prioritised tackling those risks. So, should a supervisory authority wish to see why you made the decisions you have regarding data protection and cybersecurity, you will have clear answers that don’t just demonstrate why you have taken an action, but also why you have made changes in the order that you have.
5. They can help make your limited IT budget go further
Once you understand what your data protection and cyber security priorities are, you will easily be able to identify the best ways to spend your IT budget.
For schools with limited IT budgets, this insight is invaluable. Establishing a robust and holistic data defence against common data protection and cyber security threats can be costly, and having this insight on your side can make the difference between investing in solutions that will support you for years or making incorrect choices that end up wasting increasingly limited funds.
Speak to the cyber security assessments experts
At 9ine, we know schools and we know compliance. We are trusted by a wide range of educational institutions to help make sense of the shifting regulatory environment and threat landscape—following an established and objective IT assessment framework.
If you are concerned about one or more of the areas discussed above, contact us today and set up a meeting with one of our compliance experts to find out more about our framework for assessment and learn how we can help you take the complexity out of compliance.