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Essential Eight

Why Business Owners

Should Know About The Essential Eight

With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, Australian businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), face a heightened risk of cyber attacks. These incidents can lead to significant financial losses, damage to reputation, and erosion of customer trust. Against this backdrop, understanding and implementing cyber security best practices is crucial for business owners across Australia.

One of the cornerstone frameworks for enhancing an organisation’s cyber defence is the Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) Essential Eight. This set of strategies offers a comprehensive approach to mitigating cyber threats, focusing on both prevention and damage control.

What is the Essential Eight?

 

The Essential Eight is a cyber security strategy developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), aimed at providing businesses with a foundational set of practices to protect against a wide range of cyber threats. These strategies are designed to achieve three key objectives: preventing malware from harming your systems, limiting the impact of cyber security incidents, and ensuring that your data and systems can be quickly restored after an attack. For business owners, understanding and implementing the Essential Eight means taking proactive steps to safeguard your operations, reputation, and the trust of your customers.

Here’s a simplified overview of what each component of the Essential Eight means for your business:

  1. Application Control: This involves only allowing approved and secure applications to run on your systems. It’s like having a guest list for a private event, ensuring only invited applications can operate, which significantly reduces the risk of malicious software infiltrating your network.

  2. Patch Applications: Regularly updating your software applications to fix security vulnerabilities. Think of it as maintaining your car to ensure it runs smoothly and safely, reducing the risk of breakdowns or, in this case, security breaches.

  3. Configure Microsoft Office Macro Settings: Macros can be used maliciously to compromise your systems. By only allowing trusted macros to run and blocking those from untrusted sources, you’re essentially vetting who gets a key to your office.

  4. User Application Hardening: This means configuring web browsers and email clients to minimise the risk of attacks from the internet or email-based threats. It’s akin to reinforcing your doors and windows against break-ins.

  5. Restrict Administrative Privileges: Limiting who has ‘admin’ access to your systems ensures that only those who truly need broad control for their work have it. This is similar to giving house keys only to family members, reducing the risk of loss or theft.

  6. Patch Operating Systems: Keeping your operating system up to date is crucial for security. It’s like updating the locks on your doors whenever a vulnerability is discovered, ensuring potential intruders can’t easily break in.

  7. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): Adding an extra layer of security when logging into systems, MFA requires a second form of verification beyond just a password. This makes unauthorised access much harder to gain.

  8. Daily Backup of Important Data: Regularly backing up your data ensures that, in the event of a cyber incident, you can restore your information and continue business operations with minimal disruption.
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Why Australian Business Owners Should Care About the Essential Eight

 

Understanding the Essential Eight is particularly important for Australian business owners, given the escalating cyber threat landscape.

Implementing the Essential Eight can also have more benefits than just enhanced cyber security too!

This includes:

  • Compliance and Competitive Edge: Adopting the Essential Eight goes beyond meeting cyber security standards; it distinguishes your business as a secure and reliable partner. This not only aligns with national cyber security guidelines but also boosts your company’s reputation, offering a competitive advantage in markets where trust is key.

  • Cost Efficiency: Prevention is more cost-effective than recovery. The Essential Eight provides proactive measures to minimise financial losses from cyber incidents like data breaches, ransomware attacks, and system downtimes, making it a prudent approach to protecting your business.

  • Data Protection and Privacy: With stringent data privacy laws, such as the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, adherence to the Essential Eight ensures the protection of sensitive and personal information, helping businesses stay compliant and avoid penalties.

  • Brand Reputation: Cyber incidents can significantly damage a company’s reputation. Implementing the Essential Eight shows a commitment to security, maintaining customer trust and confidence, crucial for preserving a positive brand image.

  • Resilience Against Evolving Threats: The cyber threat environment is constantly changing. The Essential Eight provides a flexible framework that updates in response to new threats, offering businesses contemporary defences against emerging challenges.

  • Operational Continuity: Cyber attacks can disrupt business operations. The Essential Eight emphasises preventative measures, such as regular updates and backups, to ensure businesses can swiftly recover from incidents, reducing operational interruptions.

  • Customer Confidence: Customers are increasingly concerned about the security of their personal data. By adhering to the Essential Eight, businesses demonstrate their commitment to data protection, significantly enhancing consumer trust and loyalty.

The Essential Eight offers a high level strategic framework for defending against cyber threats, securing digital assets, and enhancing market position, operational resilience, and customer relationships in a digital world where security is paramount.

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Implementing the Essential Eight

Each strategy in the Essential Eight can be implemented at different levels – depending on how much security a business needs.  

For business owners, partnering with a service like Jam Cyber can streamline this process, ensuring each step is effectively managed. This includes:

  1. Assessment and Prioritisation: Start with a clear assessment of your cyber security stance against the Essential Eight. Jam Cyber can help identify areas needing attention, focusing on measures with the highest impact on risk reduction.

  2. Recommendations: Cyber security isn’t one-size-fits-all. Jam Cyber provides personalised advice based on your business’s unique needs and risk exposure, ensuring your cyber security strategy is both efficient and effective.

  3. Resource Allocation: Allocating resources effectively is key. Jam Cyber can guide you in investing wisely in cyber security tools and training, ensuring you see these as investments in your business’s resilience.

  4. Continuous Improvement: The cyber threat landscape evolves constantly, and so should your defences. Jam Cyber can keep you updated on the latest threats and Essential Eight updates, helping your business maintain a robust cyber security posture.

  5. Stakeholder Engagement: Effective implementation requires buy-in from all stakeholders. Once your system in in place, communicating the importance of cyber security across your organisation, fosters a shared commitment to safeguarding your business.

  6. Culture of Cyber Security Awareness & Training: Building a cyber security-aware culture ensures your employees are the first line of defence – not the core vulnerability. Jam Cyber has free training and awareness programs which you can access to make sure your team is equipped to recognise and respond to threats.
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By leaning on the expertise and support of Jam Cyber, business owners can navigate the implementation of the Essential Eight with confidence.

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