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What is the Essential 8?
The Essential 8, a brainchild of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), comprises a selection of defensive strategies aimed at shielding organizations of all sizes from online dangers. These threats are known culprits behind most intrusions and unexpected service interruptions.
This cybersecurity counsel is like a Swiss Army Knife – versatile enough to be applied across a wide range of networks, systems, and applications, from on-premise deployments to cloud-based and other online services. While it principally targets Microsoft Windows-based networks, its applicability is not restricted. Think of the Essential 8 as the foundational bricks and mortar of a sturdy cybersecurity fortress.
Essential 8 Principals
Each component of the Essential 8 targets a distinct facet of a cybersecurity strategy, specifically addressing the eight primary areas typically implicated in cybersecurity incidents. The Essential Eight act as a trove of information and data management strategies, as well as a guide for secure configurations, designed to preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of an organisation’s vital information and data. Here’s a peek into the Essential 8 territories:
- Application Control
- Application Patching
- Microsoft Office Macro Setting Configuration
- User Application Fortification
- Restriction of Administrative Privileges
- Operating System Patching
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Regular Data Backups
Not only does the Essential 8 offer guidance on what steps Australian organisations should take to diminish the risk of a cyber-attack and minimise the aftermath of a breach, but the ACSC has also curated the Essential 8 Maturity Model. This model serves as a useful tool for organisations to evaluate their effectiveness in implementing these defensive strategies.
Essential 8 Maturity Model
Level 0: At this initial stage, organisations display significant gaps in their cybersecurity armor that can be easily penetrated by threat actors armed with common tools and techniques.
Level 1: Climbing up to this level, organisations have put fundamental protective measures in place. These safeguards help to thwart cyber criminals and other nefarious entities from infiltrating systems using standard tools and methods.
Level 2: Leaping to this level, organisations showcase a mature approach with strategies devised to counteract a wide array of advanced security attacks. Such attacks often attempt to exploit weaknesses like elevated user privileges and credential harvesting.
Level 3: The zenith of maturity: At this peak, organisations employ an array of tools such as specific application controls, workstation logging, and monitoring. These measures ensure that any unusual activity can be promptly detected, scrutinised, and addressed by rapidly patching known vulnerabilities.