How the Australian Signals Directorate Guides the Way to Better Cybersecurity

With the number of cyberthreats growing by the day, organizations of all sizes are coming to understand the importance of having rigorous security measures in place.

With this in mind, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) provides help and guidance for organizations keen to improve and maintain their cyber readiness. The guidance can be used to develop a tailored security strategy, deploy required tools and processes, and then monitor the status of this deployment to ensure ongoing compliance.

The Essential Eight

One of the most important things offered by the ASD is a list of key steps organizations can take to significantly beef up their cybersecurity. Dubbed the “Essential 8”, these steps cover all the basics. The steps are:

  1. Whitelist applications to ensure all that are running in your IT environment are approved
  2. Patch applications to ensure that any vulnerabilities identified are fixed as swiftly as possible
  3. Configure Microsoft Office macros to be secure as they can be used to deliver and execute malicious code
  4. Undertake application hardening to block Flash and Java-based ads which can be used to deliver malicious code
  5. Restrict admin privileges so people only have access to the resources that they require
  6. Patch operating systems as any weaknesses can be exploited by cybercriminals
  7. Deploy multi-factor authentication to restrict access to vital applications and data stores
  8. Undertake daily data backups to ensure vital information can be accessed if a cyber incident was to occur

The Information Security Manual

To augment the Essential Eight, the ASD also produces monthly updates to its Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM). The ISM has been designed to help businesses refine their risk management strategies by applying additional security measures when appropriate.

The guidelines offered within the ISM are regarded as best practice and cover both governance and technical requirements. They’re aimed at chief information security officers (CISOs), CIOs and IT security professionals.

While it’s not a legal requirement for an organization to be compliant with the ISM guidelines, it certainly makes sense. The guidelines are designed to improve security and so there is little reason to not follow them.

Also, if your organization is working for a government department or agency, you may be asked to prove compliance. It’s therefore worth putting in the effort now to understand the requirements and the steps you need to take.

Achieving Compliance

Achieving and maintaining compliance with the ASD guidelines is a multi-step process. The first step is to identify any deficiencies that exist within your IT infrastructure and clearly understand what needs to be improved.

Next, you need to review all the steps that have been made and assess whether this allows your organization to become compliant. Assessment is usually carried out by an external party that can critically review all the tools and processes in place and determine their effectiveness.

This is where a company such as LogRhythm can assist. By making use of a tool such as LogRhythm’s Compliance Automation Suite (CAS), the process of checking your security strength and taking any necessary steps is greatly streamlined. CAS utilizes LogRhythm’s framework for automation, SmartResponse, and additional prebuilt content to help you satisfy compliance needs and realize immediate results. 

As well as ensuring all steps are taken, this approach can also reduce costs and the time it will take to complete the work. Regular reports can be automatically generated that show exactly what has been achieved and identify any further steps that might be required.

Tools such as CAS make it much easier for an organization to comply with the ASD guidelines and offer a series of paths than can be followed to reach compliance. They can be put to work in any organization regardless of size or current security status.

The flexibility offered by CAS means it can also be used by organizations at different points on their journey towards achieving compliance. The suite supports recommendations made in the ISM and reduces the costs associated with meeting others by providing pre-built content and functionality.

CAS also makes use of advanced LogRhythm functionality such as NetMon, TrueIdentity, SysMon, Threat Research content, and Case Management. It works out of the box while also offering a level of customization.

The suite has been built using LogRhythm’s Consolidated Compliance Framework (CCF) content, which cross-maps numerous globally accepted frameworks to demonstrate compliance across multiple jurisdictions.

Taking the time now to fully assess your security preparedness and implement the ASD guidelines will ensure you are best placed to withstand the constantly evolving threat landscape. Any failure to do so could result in disruption and financial loss in the future.,