Essential 8 Maturity Level Two

0
24

The focus of this maturity level is adversaries operating with a modest step-up in capability from the previous maturity level. These adversaries are willing to invest more time in a target and, perhaps more importantly, in the effectiveness of their tools. For example, these adversaries will likely employ well-known tradecraft in order to better attempt to bypass security controls implemented by a target and evade detection. This includes actively targeting credentials using phishing and employing technical and social engineering techniques to circumvent weak multi-factor authentication.

Generally, adversaries are likely to be more selective in their targeting but still somewhat conservative in the time, money and effort they may invest in a target. Adversaries will likely invest time to ensure their phishing is effective and employ common social engineering techniques to trick users to weaken the security of a system and launch malicious applications, for example via Microsoft Office macros. If the account that an adversary compromises has special privileges they will seek to exploit it, otherwise they will seek accounts with special privileges. Depending on their intent, adversaries may also destroy all data (including backups) accessible to an account with special privileges.

The Essential 8

Mitigation StrategyDescription
Application controlApplication control is implemented on workstations and internet-facing servers to restrict the execution of executables, software libraries, scripts, installers, compiled HTML, HTML applications and control panel applets to an organisation-approved set.Allowed and blocked executions on workstations and internet-facing servers are logged.
Patch applicationsPatches, updates or vendor mitigations for security vulnerabilities in internet-facing services are applied within two weeks of release, or within 48 hours if an exploit exists.Patches, updates or vendor mitigations for security vulnerabilities in office productivity suites, web browsers and their extensions, email clients, PDF software, and security products are applied within two weeks of release.Patches, updates or vendor mitigations for security vulnerabilities in other applications are applied within one month of release.A vulnerability scanner is used at least daily to identify missing patches or updates for security vulnerabilities in internet-facing services.A vulnerability scanner is used at least weekly to identify missing patches or updates for security vulnerabilities in office productivity suites, web browsers and their extensions, email clients, PDF software, and security products.A vulnerability scanner is used at least fortnightly to identify missing patches or updates for security vulnerabilities in other applications.Internet-facing services, office productivity suites, web browsers and their extensions, email clients, PDF software, Adobe Flash Player, and security products that are no longer supported by vendors are removed.
Configure Microsoft Office macro settingsMicrosoft Office macros are disabled for users that do not have a demonstrated business requirement.Microsoft Office macros in files originating from the internet are blocked.Microsoft Office macro antivirus scanning is enabled.Microsoft Office macros are blocked from making Win32 API calls.Microsoft Office macro security settings cannot be changed by users.Allowed and blocked Microsoft Office macro executions are logged.
User application hardeningWeb browsers do not process Java from the internet.Web browsers do not process web advertisements from the internet.Internet Explorer 11 does not process content from the internet.Microsoft Office is blocked from creating child processes.Microsoft Office is blocked from creating executable content.Microsoft Office is blocked from injecting code into other processes.Microsoft Office is configured to prevent activation of OLE packages.PDF software is blocked from creating child processes.ACSC or vendor hardening guidance for web browsers, Microsoft Office and PDF software is implemented.Web browser, Microsoft Office and PDF software security settings cannot be changed by users.Blocked PowerShell script executions are logged.
Restrict administrative privilegesRequests for privileged access to systems and applications are validated when first requested.Privileged access to systems and applications is automatically disabled after 12 months unless revalidated.Privileged access to systems and applications is automatically disabled after 45 days of inactivity.Privileged accounts (excluding privileged service accounts) are prevented from accessing the internet, email and web services.Privileged users use separate privileged and unprivileged operating environments.Privileged operating environments are not virtualised within unprivileged operating environments.Unprivileged accounts cannot logon to privileged operating environments.Privileged accounts (excluding local administrator accounts) cannot logon to unprivileged operating environments.Administrative activities are conducted through jump servers.Credentials for local administrator accounts and service accounts are unique, unpredictable and managed.Use of privileged access is logged.Changes to privileged accounts and groups are logged.
Patch operating systemsPatches, updates or vendor mitigations for security vulnerabilities in operating systems of internet-facing services are applied within two weeks of release, or within 48 hours if an exploit exists.Patches, updates or vendor mitigations for security vulnerabilities in operating systems of workstations, servers and network devices are applied within two weeks of release.A vulnerability scanner is used at least daily to identify missing patches or updates for security vulnerabilities in operating systems of internet-facing services.A vulnerability scanner is used at least weekly to identify missing patches or updates for security vulnerabilities in operating systems of workstations, servers and network devices.Operating systems that are no longer supported by vendors are replaced.
Multi-factor authenticationMulti-factor authentication is used by an organisation’s users if they authenticate to their organisation’s internet-facing services.Multi-factor authentication is used by an organisation’s users if they authenticate to third-party internet-facing services that process, store or communicate their organisation’s sensitive data.Multi-factor authentication (where available) is used by an organisation’s users if they authenticate to third-party internet-facing services that process, store or communicate their organisation’s non-sensitive data.Multi-factor authentication is enabled by default for non-organisational users (but users can choose to opt out) if they authenticate to an organisation’s internet-facing services.Multi-factor authentication is used to authenticate privileged users of systems.Multi-factor authentication uses either: something users have and something users know, or something users have that is unlocked by something users know or are.Successful and unsuccessful multi-factor authentications are logged.
Regular backupsBackups of important data, software and configuration settings are performed and retained in a coordinated and resilient manner in accordance with business continuity requirements.Restoration of systems, software and important data from backups is tested in a coordinated manner as part of disaster recovery exercises.Unprivileged accounts, and privileged accounts (excluding backup administrators), can only access their own backups.Unprivileged accounts, and privileged accounts (excluding backup administrators), are prevented from modifying or deleting backups.