The Essential Eight are mitigation strategies developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to help organisations protect themselves against various cyber threats.
These are designed to protect Microsoft Windows-based internet-connected networks. Frst pulished in 2017 and updated regularly, it is based on ACSC’s extensive experience in cyber threat intelligence and incident response.
When implementing the Essential Eight, organisations should first identify a target maturity level that is suitable for their environment. Organisations should then progressively implement each maturity level until that target is achieved.
As the mitigation strategies that constitute the Essential Eight have been designed to complement each other, and to provide coverage of various cyber threats, organisations should plan their implementation to achieve the same maturity level across all eight mitigation strategies before moving onto higher maturity levels.
Organisations should implement the Essential Eight using a risk-based approach. In doing so, organisations should seek to minimise any exceptions and their scope, for example, by implementing compensating security controls and ensuring the number of systems or users impacted are minimised. In addition, any exceptions should be documented and approved through an appropriate process. Subsequently, the need for any exceptions, and associated compensating security controls, should be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. Note, the appropriate use of exceptions should not preclude an organisation from being assessed as meeting the requirements for a given maturity level.
As the Essential Eight outlines a minimum set of preventative measures, organisations need to implement additional measures to those within this maturity model where it is warranted by their environment. Further, while the Essential Eight can help to mitigate the majority of cyber threats, it will not mitigate all cyber threats. As such, additional mitigation strategies and security controls need to be considered, including those from the Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents and the Australian Government Information Security Manual.
Finally, there is no requirement for organisations to have their Essential Eight implementation certified by an independent party. However, Essential Eight implementations may need to be assessed by an independent party if required by a government directive or policy, by a regulatory authority, or as part of contractual arrangements.