The Essential Eight – Strategies to help your business avoid being a victim of cyber crime.

The Essential Eight – Strategies to help your business avoid being a victim of cyber crime.

That are likely to pose the biggest threat to them.

While no one strategy can guarantee to prevent cybersecurity incidents,organisations are recommended to implement eight main strategies as a framework. This framework (referred to as The Essential Eight), tightens overall security and makes system compromise more difficult.

If your business decides to actively implement the Essential Eight it will ultimately be more cost-effective in regards to money, time and effort than if you have to respond to a larger scale security attack.

Before starting to implement these strategies, organisations need to review the following:

a. identify which systems require protection (i.e. which systems store, process or communicate sensitive information or other information with a high availability requirement)

b. identify which adversaries are most likely to target their systems (e.g. cybercriminals, nation-states or malicious insiders)

c. identify the level of protection your business requires (i.e. selecting mitigation strategies to implement based on the risks to business activities from specific cyber threats).

There is a recommended order to implement for each cyber threat that will help your organisation build a strong cybersecurity network for your systems. Once organisations have begun implementing strategies, they need to focus energy on increasing the maturity of their implementation such that they eventually reach full alignment with the intent of each mitigation strategy in the following table.

Strategies to Prevent Malware Attacks

Application whitelisting of approved/trusted programs to stop the execution of unapproved/malicious programs including .exe, DLL, scripts (e.g. Windows Script Host, PowerShell and HTA) and installers.

Why: All non-approved applications (including malicious code) are prevented from executing.

Patch applications e.g. Flash, web browsers, Microsoft Office, Java and PDF viewers. Patch/mitigate computers with ‘extreme risk’ vulnerabilities within 48 hours. Use the latest version of applications.

Why: Security vulnerabilities in applications can be used to execute malicious code on systems. Configure Microsoft Office macro settings to block macros from the Internet, and only allow vetted macros either in ‘trusted locations’ with limited write access or digitally signed with a trusted certificate.

Why: Microsoft Office macros can be used to deliver and execute malicious code on systems. User application hardening. Configure web browsers to block Flash (ideally uninstall it), ads and Java on the Internet. Disable unneeded features in Microsoft Office (e.g. OLE), web browsers and PDF viewers.

Why: Flash, ads and Java are popular ways to deliver and execute malicious code on systems.

Mitigation strategies to limit the extent of cybersecurity incidents

Restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties. Regularly revalidate the need for privileges.

Don’t use privileged accounts for reading email and web browsing.

Why: Admin accounts are the ‘keys to the kingdom’. Adversaries use these accounts to gain full access to information and systems.

Patch operating systems. Patch/mitigate computers (including network devices) with ‘extreme risk’ vulnerabilities within 48 hours. Use the latest operating system version. Don’t use unsupported versions.

Why: Security vulnerabilities in operating systems can be used to further the compromise of systems.

Multi-factor authentication including for VPNs, RDP, SSH and other remote access, and for all users when they perform a privileged action or access an important (sensitive/high-availability) data repository.

Why: Stronger user authentication makes it harder for adversaries to access sensitive information and systems.

Mitigation strategies to recover data and system availability

Daily backups of important new/changed data, software and configuration settings, stored disconnected, retained for at least three months.

Test restoration initially, annually and when IT infrastructure changes.

Why: To ensure information can be accessed again following a cybersecurity incident (e.g. after a successful ransomware incident).

For more information on implementing these strategies within your business contact Netlogyx today.

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