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The Essential Eight of Cybersecurity Explained

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The costs of cyber attacks and cyber crimes are significantly more expensive than taking preventative measures. The Australian Signals Directorate published the latest version of its ‘Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents’ in April 2019, a prioritised list of mitigation strategies known as ‘The Essential Eight’, designed to assist organisations in protecting their systems against a range of adversaries. The mitigation strategies can be customised based on each organisation’s risk profile and the adversaries they are most concerned about. Once the Essential Eight mitigation strategies have been correctly implemented, a baseline cyber security posture can be achieved. Read on to learn about these strategies.

1) Application whitelisting – Whitelist approved and trusted programs to prevent the execution of unapproved or malicious programs from being executed.

2) Patch applications – Perform regular patching/updating of applications in your system. Vulnerabilities in old versions or unpatched software are often the vector for an adversary to gain control over your system.

3) Disable untrusted Microsoft Office macros – Configure Microsoft Office products to block the execution of untrusted macros. Office macros provide users with handy programming features to perform a job or task much faster and more intelligently than manual methods. However, these macros are not immediately noticeable to the standard user and often run in the background without user interaction.

4) Harden user applications – Tightly control applications that have the ability perform unwanted or potentially vulnerable actions. Unless the features are explicitly needed, web browsers should be configured by default to block these actions.

5) Restrict administrative privilege – Restrict administrative privileges for operating systems and applications based on user duties. Periodically review user access and remove unnecessary system privileges.

6) Patch operating systems – Periodically patch and upgrade your operating systems to the latest versions. Ensure you are using supported versions of operating systems to ensure security patches are being developed by the manufacturer as new vulnerabilities are discovered.

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