Thousands of SME businesses across the UK use remote assistants to help with a variety of tasks, from social media posts to bookkeeping and diary management. Most of these tasks are automated, and businesses give their assistants access to their accounting, CRM and other systems in order to maintain control over task management. This brings its own dangers, though, which is why the best virtual assistants to use are those that have taken the time and effort to become Cyber Essentials certified.
What is Cyber Essentials?Cyber Essentials is a scheme created by government to encourage businesses to make sure their systems and data are protected from cyber attack. By achieving certification, organisations are demonstrating that they are committed to cyber security, giving additional confidence to their customers and suppliers. There are two levels of certification – Cyber Essentials is a self-assessment scheme, and Cyber Essentials Plus requires a hands-on technical verification of your assessment. According to the government website, achieving Cyber Essentials certification gives a business the ability to:
- Reassure customers that you are working to secure your IT against cyber attack
- Attract new business with the promise you have cyber security measures in place
- You have a clear picture of your organisation’s cyber security level
- Some Government contracts require Cyber Essentials certification
- Complete a self-assessment questionnaire, which helps you to check that the five security controls are implemented properly.
- Get your questionnaire signed off by a senior company representative.
- Send your questionnaire for verification by an external certification body.
Why would I need a virtual assistant to have certification?First, we’d always advise that you get Cyber Essentials certification yourself. It gives an added layer of confidence to your customers and ensures your systems and processes are working at the right level. You will be protecting your business against the increasing threat of cyber attack, and is a cost-effective way of demonstrating that you are serious about protecting your business and those who come into contact with it. You may find that your insurance premiums come down because you have achieved certification, and you may also be able to pitch for new business opportunities where Cyber Essentials certification is a requirement – some Government contracts, for example, now require bidders to have certification. When it comes to deciding to hire virtual assistants, you need to carry out the same sort of due diligence as you would with any supplier: everything from making sure the list of virtual assistant services matches your needs, to looking into the security of the systems they run. This is particularly important if you’re expecting the assistant to hold data on your behalf or be able to access your data remotely. Tasks that you might outsource to a virtual assistant that means sharing your business data include:
- Bookkeeping and financial management
- Appointment setting
- Sales and order management
- Website and social media updating
- Email marketing
- Supplier management