Cyberattacks are one of the biggest threats to your business. They cost you money, time, resources, and reputation. You may even suffer legal action if your business didn’t appropriately protect sensitive data. Avoid this fate by adhering to the Essential 8.
The Essential 8 is the gold standard of cybersecurity practices for Australian businesses. Keep reading to learn how the Essential 8 will improve your business.
Importance of IT security readiness
IT security readiness is extremely important in today’s digital age. You need to ensure your organisation’s systems and data are ready for potential cyber attacks. Without a proactive approach, you’ll be vulnerable to attacks.
Having good IT security minimises the damage cyber attacks can cause your organisation. As a result, you’ll minimise data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage from attacks.
Another benefit of good IT security is you’ll improve regulatory adherence and build customer trust. Your customers will trust you better if they know their data is safe with you.
Good IT security also ensures you deliver uninterrupted services to your customers.
So having good IT security isn’t just a want, it’s a need. Without it, your business is vulnerable to attacks that can cost you money, reputation, and public trust.
Understanding the Essential 8
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) created the Essential 8 as a detailed cybersecurity framework to improve your cybersecurity. The framework outlines 8 security controls you can implement to improve your organisation’s cyber defences.
These controls include strategies like whitelisting and MFA (multi-factor authentication) to backup practices.
Significance of Essential 8
The Essential 8 is your best guide to improving your cybersecurity. These guidelines provide you with a structured approach for countering cyberattacks.
Introducing the Essential 8 best practices lets your organisation minimise vulnerabilities and reduce potential damage. Although the essential 8 principles are general, they remain relevant despite how increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks become.
Another advantage of adhering to Essential 8 principles is that you’ll demonstrate your commitment to data protection. Doing so will improve your reputation among all stakeholders, including customers, employees, and partners.
In simple words, using the Essential 8 principles is your best strategy for protecting your digital assets from attacks.
Guidelines of Essential 8
These are the 8 principles of the Essential 8.
Application whitelisting involves listing the software allowed to run on your systems. Doing this prevents malicious software from potentially entering your systems. Application whitelisting significantly reduces your organisation’s risk of installing unapproved software.
Another benefit is that whitelisting applications ensures only desirable programs are executed on your systems. So you’ll minimise the threat of potential vulnerabilities.
Patch management involves regularly updating your software with security patches. These security patches reduce vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your programs’ code. So regularly installing security patches reduces exploitable vulnerabilities in your programs.
Timely patching your software also ensures you’re protected from both known and potential cyberattacks.
Configure Microsoft Office Macro Settings
Macros are the scripts that automate tasks in Microsoft Word applications. For example, a macro could apply a certain format to a document. Macros are useful because they save time. But attackers can also exploit them to deliver malware to your system.
To defend yourself, you need to configure your Microsoft Macro settings. Specifically, you’ll want to disable macros received from external sources. That way you’ll reduce the risk of potential attacks from seemingly innocent files.
Disabling macros from external sources prevents users from accidentally activating malicious code in their Office documents.
User Application Hardening
User application hardening is the process of securing user-facing applications like web browsers. You’ll secure these applications by disabling unnecessary features and strengthening security settings.
The goal is to minimise the available surface for cyber attacks. For example, requiring users to scan attachments before downloading them prevents email attacks.
Restrict Administrative Privileges
You’ll restrict administrative privileges by only granting high-level access rights to authorised personnel. For example, you’ll only let your accounting department access employee payroll information.
Limiting people from accessing important system data reduces the chances of intentional or accidental data alteration. So you’ll overall improve your systems’ security situation and prevent unauthorised changes.
Patch Operating Systems
Patch management involves regularly updating your operating systems to close vulnerabilities. You’ll introduce patches that correct identified weaknesses in your operating systems.
That way you’ll prevent potential exploitation from known vulnerabilities.
Without regularly patching your operating system, you’ll be more vulnerable to known attacks.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) defends your systems from unauthorised access. MFA consists of users providing multiple verifications like passwords and biometric information before gaining access to systems.
MFA reduces the chances of compromised passwords resulting in unauthorised access to attackers. MFA does this by applying an extra layer of security that makes breaching your systems harder.
Regularly creating backups protects your data and aids disaster recovery. Regular backups ensure your organisation can quickly recover from incidents like data loss, ransomware attacks, and natural disasters like fires.
If attacked, your business can use your backups to restore your systems. That way you’ll minimise potential downtime and reduce data loss.
So daily backups benefit you by improving data resilience and ensuring business continuity.
How Essential 8 Helps Your SMB
These are the benefits you gain from employing the Essential 8 for your SMB.
Protection Against Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks encrypt your data and threaten to delete it unless you pay money. This type of attack causes both a loss of data and potentially money. So you don’t want it happening to you.
You’ll use the Essential 8 to prevent it. Practices like application whitelisting prevent ransomware attacks by limiting the number of applications running in your systems.
In case you suffer a ransomware attack, you can prevent data loss by regularly backing your data.
So adhering to the Essential 8 principles ensures your business is protected against ransomware attacks.
Defending Your Reputation
Consumer trust erodes rapidly when businesses fail to protect their data. You can understand why. No one wants to hand over their personal information to a company that can’t protect it.
The essential 8 principles ensure your organisation adheres to the best cyber security standards. So you’ll become trustworthy in your stakeholder’s eyes by adhering to these practices.
Being reputed for protecting sensitive data is extremely valuable. It increases customers’ likelihood of buying from you and partners’ willingness to work with you.
Saving Costs in the Long Run
Initially investing in the Essential 8 will incur you an up-front cost. But it will save you time and resources long term. Cyber attacks cause massive monetary losses. These losses include ransoms and costs incurred by downtime, data recovery, and regulatory fines.
So investing in the Essential 8 costs very little compared to the potential long-term losses caused by cyber attacks. So it’s a worthwhile investment.
Improved Business Continuity
Cyber attacks disrupt your business’s service delivery. Business disruptions not only cause revenue loss, they also increase customer dissatisfaction. You can prevent this problem by following the Essential 8 practices.
These practices ensure your IT systems swiftly recover when attacked and you maintain business continuity. So implementing the Essential 8 minimises potential financial and reputational losses.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
The cybersecurity landscape constantly changes. New cybersecurity threats abound every day. The only way to prevent becoming a victim is to stay proactive. You have to constantly prepare for potential new attacks.
The most effective way to do that is to implement the Essential 8 practices. These guidelines ensure your business is always ready for new threats.
Adhering to the Essential 8 prepares your organisation for attacks both today and in the future.
Enhancing Overall Business Operations
The Essential 8 focuses on cybersecurity but implementing it also gives further advantages. For example, regularly updating your operating system and software reduces vulnerabilities and improves system performance.
The improved efficiency performance positively impacts your IT infrastructure by improving productivity and reducing downtime.
Compliance with Industry Standards
Adhering to the Essential 8 improves your organisation’s credibility. This is especially so for industries where cybersecurity is a concern. Aligning with the Essential 8 makes it easier for your business to work with partners and expand your market.
So adopting these practices improves your position in an industry landscape increasingly driven by regulatory compliance.
Peace of Mind
Using the Essential 8’s features can give you peace of mind, using safe and secure measures to protect your business. Knowing you have a solid strategy in place will give you a feeling of confidence. Implementing these practices ensures your business has the best defence against cyber threats. So you can rest easy and invest your energy in more important activities, like business growth.
Today’s digital age offers many benefits, but it also has challenges. One of the challenges being cybersecurity. Your business needs to proactively defend itself from potential cyberattacks. The best way to do that is with the Essential 8 principles.
Effectively adopting the Essential 8 practices isn’t easy though. You may even want professional help. If so, you can contact PowerbITs for a free consultation to help improve your cybersecurity strategy today.