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Wednesday 4 Oct 2023 | 3 min read

The Essential Eight Explained

Three people in an office. There is a man standing next to a whiteboard talking to a woman sitting on a desk with a pen and notepad. Also sitting on the desk is a man smiling and typing on a laptop.

In February 2023, during a Cyber Security Roundtable, Prime Minister The Hon. Anthony Albanese said, "For businesses these days, cyber security is as important and essential as the shop having a lock on the door". 

Cyber security is just as important as physical security in today's digital-first world. According to the World Economic Forum, cyber crime as the biggest economic (and existential) threat to organisations worldwide.

Over the last few years, amid a steady rise in cyber attacks on Australian businesses, high-profile attacks on large companies have dominated the headlines.

If you're not taking steps to mitigate cyber risks, it'll be a matter of when, not if, your organisation falls victim to a potentially devastating cyber attack.

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Fortunately, robust cyber security goes a long way to protecting your organisation. But with so many cyber security strategies and frameworks out there, where do you begin? 

An excellent starting point for cyber security is the Essential Eight. As one of the strongest yet most straightforward cyber security frameworks, it should be at the core of your cyber defence strategy. 

What is the Essential Eight?

 The Essential Eight is a set of cyber mitigation strategies developed by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The mitigation strategies are specifically designed to protect networks that use Microsoft Windows.

The eight mitigation strategies are:

Application control: Blocking all applications by default so users can only access apps they need. Application control will prevent users who don't need access to a specific application from having the ability to make unwanted changes to it.

Patch applications: Ensuring you update all software with the latest patches and security improvements. 

Patch operating systems: Ensuring your operating systems are up-to-date with the latest patches and security updates.

Tip: Before installing new patches, test them to ensure they're safe.

Configure Microsoft Office macro settings: Macros are programs that run automatically when you open a Microsoft file such as a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet. You can configure your Microsoft Office settings to only allow macros from trusted sources, which is handy if you're dealing with external files that could come with viruses attached.

User application hardening: This means securing applications that frequently interact with the web, such as web browsers, where blocking certain websites and ads may be necessary. In today's connected world, more apps exchange data with the internet than ever, making application hardening especially important.

Restrict administrative privileges: Ensure that only a few trusted users have admin access to your system. Like application control, this will prevent unauthorised users from compromising your system. 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Ensure users enter more than just their password to log in to your organisation's network. A standard MFA method requires users to enter a code sent to their email or mobile number after they enter their username and password. 

Regular backups: Back up critical business data regularly. This strategy also involves setting requirements for access, modification and deletion of backups. 


What are the benefits of Essential Eight?

The Essential Eight offers numerous cyber security benefits to organisations that implement it. They include:

Mitigates cyber incidents: The Essential Eight will drastically reduce the likelihood of a cyber attack. And in the unlikely event of a breach, the mitigation strategies will minimise the damage.

Protects against common vulnerabilities: 17% of cyber attacks target software vulnerabilities. The updates required by the Essential Eight ensure your organisation adequately protects its data against known vulnerabilities in commonly used software.  

Protects critical data and assets: 20% of cyber attackers are "business insiders" - people inside your organisation with legitimate access to your systems. The Essential Eight restricts access to your organisation's systems and in doing so, it limits the risk of cyber attacks.

Compliance with cyber security standards: The Essential Eight provides a starting point to comply with relevant legislation that mandates a certain level of cyber security for organisations, such as the Critical Infrastructure Act 2018.

By implementing the Essential Eight , you're taking proactive steps towards safeguarding your organisation from cyber security risks. Cyber security protects sensitive information and helps build trust with your clients and stakeholders, ensuring your business's security, success and longevity.


Strengthen your organisation's security

 Cyber security is one of the most important considerations for businesses in today's digital-first world.  Aussie Broadband partners with Australian organisations to provide enterprise-grade managed security solutions.

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To find out more and explore a security solution tailored to your organisation's needs, contact our expert team at 1300 161 625 or via our website.

Tags:Enterprise and GovernmentSafety & securitySecurity and Privacy

Written by

Michael Hayman Headshot

Michael Hayman

Content Writer

Michael is Aussie Broadband's marketing copywriter. Michael has worked as a content marketer since 2016, predominantly in the B2B space. He is passionate about writing educational content that helps small and medium businesses run, grow and...

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