The Essential Eight Maturity Model is a framework for achieving cybersecurity goals and mitigating security risks, but it’s surprising how many businesses don’t implement this correctly or have yet to implement them at all. While it is a carefully developed level system based on a list of eight key aspects of modern cybersecurity, it’s easy for businesses to feel overwhelmed and confused on how to achieve the maximum level of security they seek. By partnering with Invotec, your business will be well equipped on how to identify, review, and implement reliable cybersecurity measures.
Leaving Nothing Up to Chance
Many business owners and managers treat cybersecurity as a “set and forget” aspect of their technology, wrongly assuming that a basic set of security technologies will be enough to keep them safe without further intervention.
It’s assumptions like this that lead to malicious intrusions and data breaches. Cybercrime methodology evolves at a staggering rate with new attack vectors being discovered every day, meaning security systems left unreviewed will quickly get left behind. No matter how confident you are in your cybersecurity, having a system and a strategy to rely on when the inevitable happens is a vital part of cybersecurity. Preferably a system like the Essential Eight Maturity Model.
What is the Essential Eight Maturity Model?
The Essential Eight Maturity Model is a set of prioritized mitigation strategies developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre to assist businesses in addressing and eliminating cybersecurity vulnerabilities. These strategies are drawn from the Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents, the main ones being the Essential Eight.
In short, it’s a rather simple rubric that you can follow to make sure that all your bases are covered when it comes to cybersecurity. In addition to listing the technical aspects of cybersecurity that you should address and verify, it also provides a system by which to rate your adherence to the system.
The “maturity” portion of the model refers to the three maturity levels it is based on. Meant to help businesses better track how well they are following the Essential Eight Maturity Model, these levels are clearly defined in line with each of the Eight strategies. The maturity level definitions are 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.
It’s important to remember that depending on the size of your business and the industry you operate in, the frequency, severity, and type of risks you encounter can vary greatly. In those cases, you may very well move from one maturity level to another over time, and as such, will require more regular updating.
Addressing the most vital components of a strong cybersecurity defence, the Essential Eight Maturity Model includes the following:
- Application Whitelisting
Application whitelisting is the practice of specifying an index of approved software applications that are permitted to be present and active on a computer system. The goal of whitelisting is to protect computers and networks from potentially harmful
- Application Patching
Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users. That’s why regular patching is such an important part of cybersecurity.
Furthermore, each level also requires that end of life applications (those that are no longer receiving vendor support such as updates, and patches) are updated or replaced with vendor-supported alternatives.
- Configuration of Microsoft Office Macro Settings
A macro is a series of commands and instructions that you group together as a single command to accomplish a task automatically. These can be very convenient for users that want to eliminate repetitious or tedious work. However, because macros deploy an automated series of commands, they are also used by cybercriminals to execute tasks on a target’s system. That’s why there needs to be strict control applied to how macros are allowed to execute.
- User Application Hardening
This is the security practice of only allowing necessary (and safe) areas of a given application to run. This is done to prevent conventionally unsafe browser-based plug-ins such as Java and Flash from compromising a user’s systems.
- Restriction of Administrator Privileges
Administrator privileges allow certain users with privileged access to applications, controls and sensitive data. In a poorly secured IT environment, it’s not uncommon to find that all users have Administrative Privileges, which is a major security risk. All three Maturity Levels require the implementation of security controls to prevent privileged users from reading emails, browsing the web and downloading files from online services.
- Patching Operating Systems
Similar to application patching, operating systems must be patched as well to make sure that identified security vulnerabilities are not left open for cybercriminals to exploit. Furthermore, each level requires that end of life operating systems (those that are no longer receiving vendor support such as updates and patches) are updated or replaced with vendor-supported alternatives.
- Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is a superior way to keep your data more secure. MFA requires the user to utilize two methods to confirm that they are the rightful account owner. In Level 2 & 3, it further requires that MFA is implemented to authenticate all privileged users and any other positions of trust. However, in Level 3, it is required that MFA is used to authenticate all users when accessing important data repositories.
- Daily Backups
Backups are a process by which local data is replicated and stored in a secure offsite location, to protect against permanent data loss. Today, this is often done automatically, via the cloud.
Taken all at once, this may seem like a lot to manage on your own. If you’re unsure of how to undertake this process, you should consult Invotec for assistance.
Regardless, the best part of security frameworks like the Essential Eight Maturity Model is that once you reach Level 3 Maturity, much of the processes are automated, redundant, and provide fail-safes. While it may take time, effort and other resources to get there, even Level 1 Maturity provides a degree of confidence in your cybersecurity.
Like this article? Check out Australian Parliament Considering Changes To Encryption Laws, Hacked: The Australian Emergency Warning System — Is Your Business Next? or Critical Questions CEO’s Need To Ask When Evaluating Cyber Security Risks to learn more.