Organisations helping most vulnerable in society offered free cyber security support

7 Mar 2024 Shauna O'Neill    Last updated: 7 Mar 2024

Charities - Get Fully Funded to Cyber Essentials Plus

Small charities are being offered free cyber security assistance from the nation’s leading experts to help them protect the vulnerable people they support.

The National Cyber Security Centre's (NCSC’s) Funded Cyber Essentials Programme aims to help small organisations in the voluntary and community sector most at risk of cyber attack with free, hands-on help to implement the cyber security controls that prevent most common types of attacks.

Some sectors are at greater risk of cyber attack than others, perhaps because of sensitive information they deal with, or because they're seen as an ‘easy target’ for cyber criminals. The focus of the Funded Cyber Essentials Programme is on supporting small organisations who have a low level of cyber maturity and work with data that is sensitive and would have significant impact if disrupted. The programme will offer Cyber Essentials Plus to specific organisations that are at high risk of cyber attack, at no cost.

What is Cyber Essentials?

Cyber Essentials is an effective, Government backed scheme that will help you to protect your organisation, whatever its size, against a whole range of the most common cyber attacks.

Who can apply?

  • A micro or small charity (1 to 49 employees) that has a core charitable purpose of supporting vulnerable people; including victims of abuse, support to mental health or the elderly.


  • A micro or small charity (1 to 49 employees) that holds sensitive personal information (such as health information) about vulnerable people.

AND meet the following criteria:

  • has not previously participated in the NCSC Funded Cyber Essentials Programme
  • does not currently hold Cyber Essentials Plus (CE+) certification
  • has not been awarded CE+ certification since January 2023 and is not currently in the process of applying for CE+ certification

How does it work?

The Funded Cyber Essentials Programme will seek to help organisations meet the five technical controls of  Cyber Essentials – firewalls, secure settings, access controls, malware and software updates – by identifying and implementing improvements that are right for the size and needs of the organisation.

The programme will offer practical support from a Cyber Advisor to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus at no cost to the organisation. This does not include the cost of any additional software or hardware identified by the Advisor that is required to achieve Cyber Essential Plus.

Qualifying organisations will receive around 20 hours of remote support with a Cyber Advisor. This time will be spent identifying and implementing improvements and supporting them in implementing the 5 Cyber Essentials technical controls. This will be followed by a hands-on technical verification that the controls have been put in place.

If it is not possible for the organisation to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus, the Advisor will help organisations implement as many of the technical controls as possible and give the organisation a clear list of the additional actions they need to undertake to become compliant. The scheme is designed to lead an organisation through the technical controls required to achieve Cyber Essentials certification, followed by the audit for Cyber Essentials Plus. No previous cyber security certification or experience is necessary.

Information session

You are invited to attend a free online information session hosted by Vertical Structure on 14 March 2024 from 10am to 10.30am to find out more about the Funded Cyber Essentials Programme. 

Join to hear how the scheme has successfully helped dozens of Northern Ireland charities obtain certification, the benefits of the scheme and how Cyber Essentials Plus will help your organisation level up its cyber resilience.

Book your free place here
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by Shauna O'Neill

Communications Officer

[email protected]

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