ACSC Essential 8

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ACSC Essential 8

Did you know that protecting and dealing with cyber risks is the top challenge for businesses in 2024, and will remain the top challenge for the next 3-5 years, according to KPMG’s Keeping Us Up At Night 2024 Survey? This means that making sure your organisation is cyber secure is a big priority for most businesses. If this is the case for you, the ACSC Essential 8 – or the E8 for short – is a great place for any and all Aussie businesses to start. Let’s get up to speed on the latest about the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s model that gets you on track with your cybersecurity.

What is the ACSC Essential 8?

The ACSC Essential 8 is a technical cybersecurity maturity model that includes practical guidance for how to implement cybersecurity controls across multiple internal business systems. Each of the controls have been designed to address common system vulnerabilities as well as common threats to modern systems. It’s a model that evolves as new threats come out and areas of focus grow; the ACSC actively makes updates.

The Essential 8 has eight different areas of focus:

  1. Patch applications
  2. Patch operating systems
  3. Multi-factor authentication
  4. Restrict administrative privileges
  5. Application control
  6. Restrict Microsoft Office macros
  7. User application hardening
  8. Regular backups

There are four different maturity levels to the model; levels 0-3, with level three being the highest level of maturity. For each of the eight different focus areas, there are technical controls under each of them that are different and increasingly more secure as you go up the maturity levels.

Now, while the Essential 8 was designed to keep Australian federal government agencies secure, businesses are discovering the model is a clever way to keep their own businesses cybersecure, too. If you’re an Aussie business or organisation, and you are looking to implement a cyber security model , the Essential 8 can be an obvious first place to start out.

Why would I need the Essential 8?

Not only is the Essential 8 a mandatory model for use in federal government, but it’s also a handy tool to use in business to stay cyber-safe. While you might not need your cybersecurity controls as strict and tight as say, ASIO, there is something in the Essential 8 for everyone, regardless of your current state of security.

For a start, you can benchmark the state of your cybersecurity by going down the checklist of controls at Level 0 to see if you stack up. Most businesses will find they are at this stage of maturity according to the model. It’s hard to check off every item, so don’t feel discouraged if you wind up at a lower cybersecurity maturity level than you thought.

Running through this initial assessment exercise is a good place to start. Whether you implement the assessment internally or have someone else come in to do it, once you know where your business stands in E8 maturity, you can plot a course for where you want to get to. With the model and its listed controls, you have the guidebook of how to get where you want to go.

Of course, there are other cybersecurity models and frameworks to consider, too, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001, and SOC2. The E8 is a great start for cybersecurity confidence, however it doesn’t cover everything. Businesses may also want to consider cloud cybersecurity, less Microsoft-focused environments, and non-controls-based frameworks.

Getting help with the Essential 8

The ACSC has plenty of resources for the Essential Eight available on its website. For small businesses, the Cyber Wardens program is an educational tool that helps with the E8 and self-help for cybersecurity from the ground up. You can also talk to the RIGA team today for a tailored education experience for you and your staff.

At RIGA, we’re experienced in helping businesses assess their current E8 maturity level, work towards rolling out the controls safely, and achieve the desired maturity level – up to and including Level 3. If you would like more info on how we can help or you’re ready to get started then make sure to get in contact with us today.