Australian Cyber Security Strategy

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Arnav Sharma

In this blog, we will look into the specifics of the Essential Eight Maturity Model, comparing the different maturity levels and exploring what it takes to advance from one level to the next. Whether you’re just starting your cyber security journey or looking to enhance your existing practices, understanding these maturity levels is crucial for achieving a good cyber security posture.

Essential 8 Maturity Levels Comparison

Essential 8 Maturity Levels Comparison

Essential 8 Strategy Maturity Level 1 Maturity Level 2 Maturity Level 3
Application Whitelisting – Basic whitelisting of executables.
– Only allows trusted executable files to run.
– Protects against common malware and unapproved software.
– Whitelisting of executables, scripts, and installers.
– Adds whitelisting for scripts and installers to prevent unauthorized software.
– Reduces the risk from more sophisticated threats using scripts and installers.
– Comprehensive whitelisting including libraries and applications.
– Extends whitelisting to include libraries and all types of applications, providing a robust security layer.
– Provides the highest level of protection by ensuring only fully vetted software components can run.
Patch Applications – Patching within 30 days.
– Applies security patches for known vulnerabilities within a month.
– Balances operational impact with security needs.
– Patching within 14 days.
– Speeds up the patching process to address vulnerabilities faster.
– Ensures more timely protection against exploits.
– Patching within 48 hours.
– Implements an urgent patching process to minimize the window of exposure.
– Drastically reduces the risk of exploitation by rapidly closing security gaps.
Configure Microsoft Office Macro Settings – Block macros from the internet.
– Disables macros from untrusted sources to prevent malware.
– Basic level of protection against macro-based attacks.
– Allow only macros from trusted locations.
– Allows macros only from trusted, secure locations to reduce risk.
– Balances usability with security by permitting necessary macros.
– Use of Group Policy to enforce macro settings.
– Enforces strict macro policies through centralized management, ensuring compliance and security.
– Comprehensive control over macro execution to prevent unauthorized access or actions.
User Application Hardening – Basic hardening techniques.
– Removes or disables unnecessary features to reduce attack surfaces.
– Provides a fundamental defense against common exploits.
– Additional hardening to block browser ads and prevent Flash content.
– Adds protections against web-based threats and deprecated technologies like Flash.
– Enhances security by addressing more specific and sophisticated threats.
– Comprehensive hardening including blocking Java and unnecessary browser extensions.
– Implements thorough hardening measures to block high-risk content and minimize vulnerabilities.
– Maximizes protection by eliminating broad categories of potential vulnerabilities.
Restrict Administrative Privileges – Review of administrative privileges every 6 months.
– Periodic checks to ensure admin privileges are still necessary.
– Helps prevent privilege creep and reduces the risk of misuse.
– Regular review and monitoring of administrative accounts.
– More frequent reviews to promptly identify and remove unnecessary privileges.
– Maintains tighter control over administrative access to reduce risk.
– Continuous monitoring and review with just-in-time admin access.
– Implements just-in-time access and continuous monitoring for the highest level of security.
– Ensures administrative privileges are used only when absolutely necessary, minimizing potential misuse.
Patch Operating Systems – Patching within 30 days.
– Applies critical OS updates within a month to protect against known threats.
– Ensures systems are regularly updated without significant operational disruption.
– Patching within 14 days.
– Accelerates patching timeline to address vulnerabilities more swiftly.
– Enhances protection by reducing the window of vulnerability.
– Patching within 48 hours.
– Implements immediate patching for critical updates to minimize exposure to threats.
– Provides the highest level of protection with minimal delay between patch release and application.
Multi-Factor Authentication – MFA for remote access and critical data.
– Requires additional authentication for remote and critical access to add an extra layer of security.
– Provides essential protection against unauthorized access to critical systems.
– MFA for all users accessing sensitive information.
– Expands MFA requirements to include all users accessing sensitive information, enhancing security.
– Reduces the risk of credential theft and unauthorized access for sensitive data.
– MFA for all users and privileged accounts with hardened devices.
– Enforces MFA for all access points, including privileged accounts, ensuring maximum security.
– Combines MFA with hardened devices for privileged users, offering the strongest level of protection.
Daily Backups – Daily backups stored offsite.
– Ensures critical data is backed up daily and stored in a secure offsite location.
– Provides basic recovery capability in case of data loss or cyber incidents.
– Daily backups stored offsite and verified quarterly.
– Adds regular verification to ensure backups are complete and accurate.
– Enhances reliability of backups, ensuring they can be restored when needed.
– Daily backups stored offsite, verified, and tested quarterly with a recovery exercise every 6 months.
– Includes comprehensive verification and testing to guarantee backup integrity and recovery capability.
– Ensures a robust backup and recovery process, capable of restoring operations swiftly in case of disaster.


Q: What is a maturity model in the context of cyber security?

A maturity model in cyber security is a framework that helps organizations assess the effectiveness and sophistication of their cyber security practices. It typically outlines various levels of maturity that represent the evolution of an organization’s capabilities and processes in managing cyber security risks.

Q: What are the Essential Eight in cyber security?

The Essential Eight are a set of baseline strategies recommended by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to help organizations protect their systems against various cyber threats. These strategies are designed to mitigate the risk of cyber security incidents.

Q: What is the purpose of the Essential Eight Maturity Model?

The Essential Eight Maturity Model is used to assess and improve an organization’s implementation of the Essential Eight strategies. It provides a structured approach to achieving higher maturity levels in cyber security by requiring specific controls and practices at each level.

Q: How can organizations implement the Essential Eight?

Organizations can implement the Essential Eight by following the guidelines and strategies provided by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). This involves adopting specific security controls and practices aimed at mitigating cyber security incidents.

Q: What are the maturity levels in the Essential Eight Maturity Model?

The Essential Eight Maturity Model consists of four maturity levels, ranging from Level Zero to Level Three. Each level represents an increasing degree of sophistication and effectiveness in implementing the Essential Eight strategies.

Q: What does it mean to be compliant with the Essential Eight?

Being compliant with the Essential Eight means that an organization has effectively implemented the recommended strategies to a degree that meets the required maturity level. This compliance helps to ensure robust cyber security measures are in place to mitigate various cyber threats.

Q: What is the significance of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) in cyber security?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is a key organization in Australia responsible for enhancing the country’s cyber security posture. It provides guidance, support, and strategies, such as the Essential Eight, to help organizations protect against cyber threats.

Q: What are the four maturity levels in the Essential Eight Maturity Model?

The four maturity levels in the Essential Eight Maturity Model are:

  1. Maturity Level Zero: Incomplete implementation or non-compliance with the Essential Eight.
  2. Maturity Level One: Basic implementation of the Essential Eight strategies.
  3. Maturity Level Two: Improved and more consistent implementation of the strategies.
  4. Maturity Level Three: Comprehensive and mature implementation of all eight strategies.

Q: How does achieving a higher maturity level benefit an organization?

Achieving a higher maturity level enhances an organization’s cyber security posture by ensuring more robust and comprehensive security measures. This reduces the risk of cyber security incidents and improves the ability to respond to and mitigate various cyber threats.

Q: What strategies are included in the Essential Eight framework?

The Essential Eight framework includes eight key strategies designed to mitigate cyber security incidents. These strategies focus on areas such as application whitelisting, patching applications, configuring Microsoft Office macro settings, user application hardening, restricting administrative privileges, patching operating systems, multi-factor authentication, and regular backups.

Q: Why is it important to target a specific maturity level?

Targeting a specific maturity level helps organizations set clear goals for their cyber security improvements. It provides a roadmap for implementing necessary security controls and practices, ensuring a systematic approach to achieving higher levels of security.

Q: How can organizations mitigate cyber security incidents using the Essential Eight strategies?

Organizations can mitigate cyber security incidents by implementing the eight essential strategies recommended by the ACSC. These strategies provide a comprehensive approach to addressing various cyber threats and improving overall security measures.

Q: What role does the ACSC Essential Eight Maturity Model play in cyber security compliance?

The ACSC Essential Eight Maturity Model plays a crucial role in cyber security compliance by providing a structured framework for implementing and assessing the Essential Eight strategies. It helps organizations achieve and maintain the required maturity levels for robust cyber security.

Q: What are the benefits of implementing the Essential Eight strategies?

Implementing the Essential Eight strategies provides several benefits, including improved protection against cyber threats, enhanced ability to mitigate cyber security incidents, and a stronger overall cyber security posture. These strategies help organizations establish effective security controls and practices.

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