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How to Pass Cyber Essentials - Part 2

How to Pass Cyber Essentials - Part 2

In my first post on “How to Pass Cyber Essentials”, I covered the initial sections which looked at your external facing systems and any cloud provisioned services you use. Now we move onto the Security Controls Questionnaire. As we go through the questions, any question ending with a ‘*’ is an important question. You really need to be getting these right.


Question 1 - Do you have a firewall? *

If I had a pound for every time I see No on this I could take a long holiday. I would be very surprised if any business can genuinely answer no to this. If you have a broadband router then there is a 99% chance that there is a firewall built into the router.

Question 2 - Have you changed it’s default password? *

This is really simple to sort. All devices within your control should have had the default password changed. Why is this important? Well, if you browse this website,, you will see that the vast majority of default password are listed.

Question 3 - Are all open ports authorised? *

This is an important question to answer yes on. I see a No in the vast majority of cases and it is so very easy to comply with. All you need to do is create a document which lists all the open ports on your firewall, why they are open and then review it annually to ensure that any open ports are still needed. If you need help with this, we have a Cyber Essentials document pack for sale at a very reasonable price.

Question 4 - Have vulnerable services been blocked? *

If you have disabled all inbound connections (default state for the vast majority of small businesses using a business broadband connection) then you can answer yes to this. There is no reason in the world that you should have any of the following services exposed to the internet:

  • SMB (file sharing)

  • NetBIOS

  • Telnet

  • TFTP

  • RPC

  • Any “R” services (rlogin, rsh, rexec) etc

If you have a genuine need for any of these to be exposed to the internet, then you need to document it and provide a business justification.

Question 5 - Have unneeded firewall rules been removed? *

What this is really asking is do you maintain your firewall properly. If you have answered yes to question 3, then I would expect to see a yes here. If not I am probably going to ask for clarification. Comply with his is very easy. Every time you log into your firewall / broadband router etc, have a quick list of the firewall rules enabled and if there are any that are no longer needed, then remove them.

Question 6 - Are firewall rules subject to regular review?

What this is really asking is do you maintain your firewall properly. If you have answered yes to question 3 and question 5, then I would expect to see a yes here. If not I am probably going to ask for clarification. Add this as a task to your quarterly or six-monthly todo list and make sure it is done. If you have outsourced the management of your firewall, then ask your IT Support company to confirm it is done every ‘x’ months.

Question 7 - Have computes that do not need to connect to the internet been prevented from initiating connections to the internet? *

This is another question that I see with a No almost every day. If all of your workstations need to connect to the internet (for instance, you use office365 or salesforce or GSuite) then your default state would be for all your systems to connect to the internet. The correct answer, in this case, is Yes.

|f you do have systems that should not connect to the internet, then you need to prevent them from connecting. A common way to achieve this is by using MAC address filtering on your broadband router/firewall.

Question 8 - Has the administrative interface used to manage the boundary firewall been configured such that it is not accessible from the Internet? *

For a lot of broadband routers, this is the case in their default state. You would need to enable it in the configuration, and that is not a very good idea. So if you are using a broadband connection, then chances are this is Yes. But to check, pop over to and note down your external IP address. Then from your computer, put that in your web browser and browse to it using http and https. If you see a login page then you need to disable it.

Got a question?


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