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Essential Eight

By Squaretech Perth | Tue, 03-Oct-2023 05:46

Introduction:

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, organizations need effective strategies to protect themselves from potential attacks. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has developed a set of prioritized mitigation strategies known as the Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents, with the most effective ones known as the Essential Eight.

The Essential Eight focuses on safeguarding Microsoft Windows-based internet-connected networks, offering a robust defense against a range of cyber threats. While these strategies are primarily designed for Windows environments, their principles can be applied elsewhere, though alternative strategies may be necessary for different systems.

The Essential Eight Strategies:

  1. Application Control: Managing and restricting the applications that can run on your systems to minimize the risk of malicious software.

  2. Patch Applications: Regularly updating and patching applications to address vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

  3. Configure Microsoft Office Macro Settings: Enhancing the security of Microsoft Office applications by configuring macro settings.

  4. User Application Hardening: Strengthening security configurations for user applications.

  5. Restrict Administrative Privileges: Limiting administrative privileges to reduce the potential impact of cyber attacks.

  6. Patch Operating Systems: Keeping operating systems up-to-date with security patches.

  7. Multi-Factor Authentication: Implementing multi-factor authentication for enhanced user authentication.

  8. Regular Backups: Ensuring regular and secure data backups to mitigate data loss.

Implementation and Maturity Levels:

When implementing the Essential Eight, organizations should identify a suitable target maturity level for their environment and progressively work towards achieving it. The strategies are designed to complement each other, so organizations should aim for the same maturity level across all eight before advancing.

A risk-based approach should guide the implementation, minimizing exceptions and their scope. Any exceptions must be documented and approved through a proper process. It's important to note that exceptions should not prevent an organization from achieving a maturity level.

The Essential Eight serves as a baseline, and additional measures should be considered based on the specific environment and threats. Not all cyber threats can be mitigated by the Essential Eight alone, so other strategies and controls should also be explored.

Maturity Levels:

Four maturity levels have been defined to assist organizations in their implementation, ranging from Maturity Level Zero to Maturity Level Three. These levels are based on the sophistication of malicious actors and their tradecraft.

  • Maturity Level Zero: Signifying weaknesses in an organization's overall cybersecurity posture.

  • Maturity Level One: Addressing malicious actors using common, readily available tradecraft.

  • Maturity Level Two: Focusing on actors with a moderate increase in capability and willingness to invest more effort.

  • Maturity Level Three: Dealing with adaptive actors who are less reliant on public tools and techniques, capable of exploiting various weaknesses.

It's essential to consider an organization's desirability to malicious actors and the potential consequences of a cyber incident when determining the target maturity level.

Conclusion:

The Essential Eight offers a robust framework for cybersecurity, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Organizations must tailor their implementation to their specific needs and continuously adapt to emerging threats. By understanding the maturity levels and tradecraft, organizations can better defend against a wide range of cyber threats.

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