Eddie Mahdi

What are the Cybersecurity Essential 8?

All businesses are online today. But have you considered how safe your digital operations are?

As you expand your business’ online presence, cybersecurity must be a top priority due to the growing number of digital attacks and malicious intent out there.

Cybercrimes can severely cripple any organisation if not proactively managed, risking your financial position, damaging your reputation and ruining the services you provide to customers.

The Australian government, led by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), strives to prevent these instances from occurring and assist organisations like yours strengthen your cybersecurity.

As the first line of defence, they’ve put forward what they call “The Essential 8”.

By complying with these Essential 8 steps, you will have a good starting point to protect your digital assets against cyber-attacks and malicious attacks online.

Here’s what you need to know.

What are the Essential 8?

The Essential 8 are Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents, and serve as a baseline for organisations to address different cybersecurity risks and defend your systems online.

To guide you in implementing it, ACSC has published a maturity scale that can help you measure your business’ alignment with each strategy. Every strategy from the Essential 8 consists of three maturity levels:

  • Level 1 – Party aligned with the mitigation strategy (low compliance)
  • Level 2 – Mostly aligned with the mitigation strategy (medium compliance)
  • Level 3 – Fully aligned (highly protected)

Did you know that 62% of Australian data breaches reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) were due to online malicious or criminal attacks?

The goal, therefore, is about reaching level 3 for each item below, to prevent cyber incidents from happening.

How to apply the Essential 8 to your cybersecurity measures

Cybersecurity issues are increasing as we continue to rely on the internet, global connectivity and other digital technologies. Fortunately, the Essential 8 can be tailored according to your business’ risk profile and requirements.

To help deal with cyber risks, here is how you can effectively integrate the Essential 8:

Mitigation Strategies to Prevent Malware Delivery and Execution

  1. Application Control

Placing complete control mechanisms over all of your users’ applications allows you to prevent unapproved programs like .exe, SLL, scripts and other malicious code from disrupting your servers and workstations.

  1. Patch Applications

Automate updates and install security patches on third-party applications such as web browsers, PDF viewers and Microsoft Office to mitigate vulnerabilities from putting your systems at risk.

  1. Configure Microsoft Office Macro Settings

Block Microsoft Office macros originating from the internet and make sure that no unauthorised user can modify Microsoft Office macro settings. Doing so will prevent the execution of malicious code.

  1. User Application Hardening

Configure your web browsers, PDF viewers and Microsoft Office to ensure they disable ads, Java, Flash and other potentially malicious virus-carrying vehicles.

Mitigation Strategies to Limit the Extent of Cyber Security Incidents

  1. Restrict Administrative Privileges

To prevent hackers from obtaining full access to your systems or operations, limit the number of users with administrative privileges and regularly revalidate privileged accounts based on users’ duties.

  1. Patch Operating Systems

Automate updates and patch “extreme risk” vulnerabilities within 48 hours. Make sure that operating systems are updated and replace those which are no longer supported.

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Performing privileged actions or accessing an important data repository should involve double authentication (such as a password plus an SMS text with a code) to protect systems from hackers and cybercriminals.

Mitigation Strategies to Recover Data and System Availability

  1. Daily Backups

Facilitating daily data backups and storing information for at least three months are both essential to guarantee accessibility following a cybersecurity incident. Implementing regular test stringent testing and validation regime can also benefit your systems.

There you have Australia’s cybersecurity Essential 8.

How did you go?

To know how to apply the Essential 8 into your business, you must first examine your current maturity level (eg: 1, 2 or 3) for each strategy.

Understanding the state of your IT can also pave the way towards getting the best solutions to achieve full compliance with the Essential 8 guidelines.

At Centrix, we can perform a complimentary IT Health Check that allows you to assess your business’ cybersecurity service against these Essential 8 requirements. We scan your entire organisation’s systems to evaluate how secure it all is and provide recommendations on how to ensure you are fully protected.

Our Managed IT experts take your cybersecurity seriously.

Don’t take the risk and wait for something to happen.

Centrix helps small businesses all the way up to corporate organisations succeed by managing, supporting and protecting your critical IT infrastructure. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, our mission is to empower your whole team with comprehensive IT Service Packages, cybersecurity protection and Managed Services to see you thrive in today’s digital landscape.

We specialise in combining technology and staff training to safeguard your business against security threats.

To start, book an IT Health Check or you can contact us today.

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