Everything you ever wanted to ask about networks and Cyber Essentials

Networks and Cyber Essentials

The term ‘network’ causes a lot of confusion for businesses looking to complete Cyber Essentials certification. It’s not hard to see why. Much of modern living is enabled by networks, from the internet to mobile phone providers. In fact, there’s little we can do without using one. So which particular  ‘network’ is the Cyber Essentials questionnaire referring to?

It’s all a little confusing. So let’s answer some of the most common questions around networks and Cyber Essentials.

What is a network? 

For the purposes of Cyber Essentials, a ‘network’ is one or more devices that are linked in order to share resources, exchange files or allow communication. For example, think of the office printer. Typically, rather than setting up a separate printer for every employee, you’ll buy one for everyone to use (and argue over whose turn it is to change the toner). This is a perfect example of a network.

The devices on a network can be linked through cables, telephone lines, radio waves, satellites or even infrared light. 

What does a network look like in practice?

Most offices and workplaces use a Local Area Network (LAN). A LAN is usually confined to a small geographic area, say an office in Bow or a warehouse in Bolton. A LAN allows every device within the network to use a single internet connection, share files and access (or even control other devices). 

In the age of the internet of things (IoT), the devices you can connect to a LAN are almost limitless.  It’s possible to connect everything from printers and phones to smart TVs, speakers and security cameras. You can even connect the office fridge. 

How does COVID-19 affect networks? 

Of course, with many of us currently working from home, the network your business is currently using may look a little different. However, this shouldn’t pose you any problems in completing Cyber Essentials.

Any single device connected to a router can be considered a network. So even if all of your employees are working remotely, using tens of different routers, Cyber Essentials certification is still possible. All you need to do is ensure that each router meets the requirements of Cyber Essentials. For example, asking each employee to change the default password on their router. 

We also often get asked how question A2.8 of the Cyber Essentials assessment (which requires a list of your network equipment) should be answered for businesses working remotely. Again, this is pretty simple. All that’s required is for you to list the equipment each employee is using, as though you were all in the same office.

How to list home network equipment for Cyber Essentials 

For a company with ten staff working from home, an equipment list may look something like this:

  • 2 x Sky broadband with Sky router 
  • 6 x BT broadband with BT hub router
  • 1 x TalkTalk broadband with TalkTalk router
  • 1 x Virgin Media broadband with Virgin Media router
  • Any office router or firewall you used pre-pandemic

But what about other elements of the Cyber Essentials assessment process? Fortunately, as the entire assessment is conducted remotely, you can complete the process no matter where your staff are working from. 

Hopefully, we’ve cleared up most of the confusion surrounding networks and Cyber Essentials. However, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. 

Looking to improve your cybersecurity but not sure where to begin? Start 2021 the right way, by getting certified in Cyber Essentials, the UK government scheme that covers all the fundamentals of cyber hygiene.

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