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IS YOUR BUSINESS PAYING ATTENTION TO THE ESSENTIAL 8?

The Essential Eight Cyber Security Maturity Model from the Australian Government Cyber Security Centre is a collection of 8 strategies designed to prevent cyber or limit the impact of cyber-attacks and retain data recovery and system availability. 

 

All businesses are encouraged by the AGCSC to use the Essential 8 because it significantly reduces the likelihood of getting hacked. Additionally, unlike many other security measures-it is cost-efficient and easy to set up. 

 

For organisations engaged in government contracts, or those who receive government funding, compliance with the Essential 8 is mandatory. 

WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL 8?

1. Application Control

WHAT: Preventing all non-approved applications from running on managed devices.

WHY: Enabling Application Control prevents users of malicious actors from running potentially harmful or inappropriate applications on managed devices.

HOW: Application Control is available via most anti-virus programs including Sophos Advanced Intercept X. Microsoft Intune also offers Application Control for customers with Business Premium or E5 licensing.

2. Patching Applications

WHAT: Updating security vulnerabilities in applications within 2 weeks of a regular update or 48 hours if an exploit exists.

WHY: Keeping your applications up to date prevents malicious actors from exploiting known weaknesses within IT systems.

HOW: Many applications such as Adobe, web browsers and Microsoft Office have regular automated maintenance. Subscribing to update notification emails and rolling out manual updates will help with this. 

3. Configuring Microsoft Office Macro Settings

WHAT: Deploying Microsoft’s recommended Office Macro settings.

WHY: Disabling these settings prevents malicious users from running code through trusted Office programs

HOW: You can manually disable Office Macro settings from the Trust Centre inside any Office app.

4. User Application Hardening

WHAT: Disabling advertisements, Flash and Java from an Internet browser. It also prevents Office from running non-required processes.

WHY: Ads, Flash and Java are popular ways to deliver and execute malicious code on systems. Disabling them prevents these sources from being interacted with by users.

HOW: You can manually disable Flash, Java and Office processes from the respective app’s settings and deploy these via registry keys.

5. Restrict Administrative Privileges

WHAT: Restricting Admin privileges to only the required admin staff and services.

WHY: Administrator accounts provide the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’. Adversaries can use these accounts to gain full access to your data and/ or systems.

HOW: Setup ‘User’ accounts on Windows devices for all of your non-admin staff. Limit the number of staff with admin permissions in online environments and most importantly don’t share the passwords for your admin accounts.

6. Patching Operating Systems

WHAT: Keeping your devices operating systems up-to-date.

WHY: Keeping your devices up to date prevents malicious actors from exploiting known weaknesses within your IT systems.

HOW: Windows devices have monthly auto-deployed patches and weekly security updates. Prevent your users from disabling Windows updates and remind them to Restart their devices regularly. 

7. Multi-Factor Authentication

WHAT: Adding an additional verification method to user accounts prevents them from being breached. This typically includes text confirmations and authenticator app codes.

WHY: Adding additional verification requirements prevents malicious actors from accessing accounts as the actor requires access to the additional method of verification. 

HOW: System admin staff can enforce user accounts to enrol in MFA for systems such as Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace.

8. Daily Backups

WHAT: Backing up company and user data to a secure cloud-based location.

WHY: Backing up data to the Cloud enables you to recover important data in the case of a geographic emergency, a malicious actor deleting files or a member of staff accidentally deleting files.

HOW: Acronis Cyber Cloud Backup provides a Cloud backup service that can be linked to your Microsoft 365 or Google tenant. 

Is your business keeping on top of the Essential 8? Need a hand? Get in contact with our team.