26.08.2020 The Australian Government has announced it will spend A$1.66 billion over the next 10 years to strengthen the cyber defences of companies and households after a rise in cyber attacks.
Adversaries activities online range from ransomware incidents to the execution of malicious programs and code. Adversaries are out there probing 24/7 to find weaknesses in systems and in the current business climate it’s more a matter of when, not if.
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) have issued an Essential Eight road map that can be used as a baseline to check your business protocols are not vulnerable. Whilst no single mitigation strategy is guaranteed to prevent cyber security incidents, this baseline makes it much harder for adversaries to compromise systems.
Does your business cover all of the mitigation strategies outlined below?
Mitigation Strategies to Prevent Malware Delivery and Execution
- Application control to prevent 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.
- 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.
- Patch applications. 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.
- 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 Cyber Security 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 following a cyber security incident (e.g. a ransomware incident).
SureCity Networks specialises in “securing the city” and provides vendor agnostic solutions covering cyber and network security. If you need help or advice getting your business cyber secure please don’t hesitate to reach out.