How To: Protect Your Business From Cyber Threats With The Essential Eight

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March 23, 2022

With its Essential Eight Maturity Model, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has gift-wrapped a ready-made framework designed to help you achieve your cybersecurity goals and mitigate security risks in your business.  

The Essential 8 Cyber Security Strategy

Though this model is readily available to all Australian business owners, many are either yet to implement it or are struggling to take the correct action on all eight steps. The demands of modern cybersecurity can feel overwhelming and confusing, so this lack of action is thoroughly understandable. However, if you haven’t yet worked through every element of the Essential Eight Maturity Model, then your business likely doesn’t have the level of security you truly need in the digital era. 

This is why Invotec has developed a strategy designed to guide business owners through the Essential Eight Maturity Model, ensuring you’re equipped to identify, review, and implement reliable cybersecurity measures. By taking advantage of Invotec’s resources and mastering the Essential Eight, you can create true cyber resilience for your company. 

Read on to learn about the foundations of the Essential Eight Maturity Model and the steps you need to take to protect your business from cyber threats. 

What is the Essential Eight Maturity Model?

The Essential Eight Maturity Model is a set of strategies designed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to assist businesses in addressing and eliminating cybersecurity vulnerabilities. In addition to listing the technical aspects of cybersecurity that all business owners must address, the ACSC also provides a rubric via which you can rate your adherence to the system.

The “maturity” portion of the model refers to the three maturity levels upon which the Essential Eight are based. Designed to give you a clear picture of how well you are following the Essential Eight Maturity Model, the levels are defined as follows:

  • Maturity Level One: Partly aligned with the intent of mitigation strategy.
  • Maturity Level Two: Mostly aligned with the intent of mitigation strategy.
  • Maturity Level Three: Fully aligned with the intent of mitigation strategy.

Depending on the size of your business and the industry in which you operate, the frequency, severity, and nature of the risks you encounter may vary greatly. For example, if you grow from a small to a mid-sized business, you may find yourself more exposed to some threats and less exposed to others. The key takeaway is that your maturity levels will likely change over time, so regular check-ins and updates are always going to be necessary.  

To ensure your business cyber security measures are effective, the Essential Eight Maturity Model recommends the following eight steps:

Application Whitelisting

When you whitelist applications, you’re essentially creating an index of all apps and software that are permitted on your company’s system. Your goal with application whitelisting is to protect your network from harmful applications.

Application Patching

Modern viruses and malware are often designed to go after flaws in programming before they have a chance to be patched. This is why developers release so many software updates and patches. These updates fix flaws that may otherwise be exploited, so in order to protect your system and its users, it’s essential to ensure you’re always up-to-date with application patching.

Operating System Patches

Like software and applications, operating systems must be patched to ensure that there are no weaknesses for cybercriminals to exploit. It’s also important to update end-of-life (EOL) operating systems. As the name suggests, EOL systems are nearing the end of their lives. This means vendors are winding down support, making it essential to find new alternatives that will continue receiving patches and updates.

Microsoft Office Macro Setting Configuration

Macros help you accomplish tasks automatically by grouping together multiple commands and instructions. They are convenient tools for users who wish to eliminate tedious, repetitious work. However, it’s important to note that macros deploy automated commands, meaning they can also be used by cybercriminals to execute tasks on your system. This is why the Essential Eight framework recommends strict controls be put in place regarding how macros are permitted to execute.

Application Hardening

This security practice eliminates vulnerabilities without interfering with the functionality of your applications. You’re basically adding a few more defensive layers to your cyber security, thus boosting your company’s overall cyber resilience.

Restrict Administrator Privileges

Administrator privileges provide special access for authorised users to certain applications, controls, and sensitive data. In a poorly secured IT environment, it’s common to find that all users have Administrative Privileges. This is a major cyber security weakness. All three Maturity Levels in the Essential 8 Model require that security controls be put in place to ensure that Administrator Privileges are assigned strategically and assessed regularly. 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor Authentication is one of the best cyber security strategies you can use to keep your network and your data safe. MFA asks users to provide two methods to confirm that they are authorised to access an account, app, or system. MFA should be used to authenticate all privileged users, and if you wish to achieve Level 3 Maturity in the Essential 8 Model, MFA will also be needed when users access data repositories.

Cloud Storage & Daily Backups

By replicating and storing your data in a secure offsite location (nowadays, this is generally the cloud), you protect your company against permanent data loss.

Even if you have an in-house IT team, executing on the Essential Eight Maturity Model can be a demanding project. If you’re unsure of how to undertake this process, or if you feel your existing IT team could use some support, it’s worth outsourcing to a Managed Service Provider like Invotec.

True Cyber Security Leaves Nothing To Chance

If you’re like most business owners, you have more work to get done than there’s time for in a day. This makes it easy to place preventative cyber measures on the back-burner while you focus on more urgent day-to-day issues. However, this is precisely the type of thinking that can leave you vulnerable to new and emerging threats, including the devastation of ransomware attacks

Cybercrime methodology evolves at a staggering rate, with new attack vectors arising each year and crime syndicates growing evermore organised and cohesive. Any security system that’s left unreviewed will fall quickly (and dangerously) behind. This is why it’s more important than ever to ensure you have the above systems and strategies in place before you fall victim to an attack.

The Invotec team would be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you execute your Essential Eight solution. Use the form below to arrange an obligation-free consultation. 

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