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  • Writer's pictureThomas Jreige

Essential 8 — Only Scratching the Surface.

The Essential 8 Controls framework is a comprehensive and widely recognised set of cybersecurity controls designed to enhance the security posture of organisations. However, focusing solely on implementing these controls without considering the human and process elements within an organisation can render them ineffective. Essential 8 Controls alone are more than insufficient and emphasises the critical role of people and process in achieving robust cybersecurity.

Computer representing essential 8

The Essential 8 Controls serve as a valuable foundation for organisations to establish a strong cybersecurity framework. However, they should be viewed as just one component of a holistic approach. To effectively safeguard an organisation’s assets, it is imperative to recognise the intrinsic link between people, process, and technology.

Firstly, here is a break of up people, process, and technology in an organisation relating to cyber security. The Essential 8 makes up 5% of the organisation but there is now 95% of the organisation that could be compromised, resulting in data breaches and other destructive events on information and data assets. Many organisations are concentrating on Essential 8 but not the other parts of the business which are equally if not more important. People make bad process which translates to bad technology.

Essential 8 breakdown

There are the major and key factors that affect cyber security in the organisation, and they are not aligned with the Essential. The only way to determine these controls is through a threat and risk assessment, as performed recently.

  1. Human Factors: One of the primary reasons why people cannot be overlooked when implementing the Essential 8 Controls is that they play a critical role in both the success and failure of security measures. Employees are often the weakest link, as their actions can inadvertently expose vulnerabilities or fall prey to social engineering attacks. Organisations must invest in robust training and awareness programs to educate employees about security best practices and the importance of complying with established controls. It is not just about phishing testing and cookie cut security awareness, but training that is specific to the organisations information security policies and plans describing the rules and obligations for all employees when protecting information in the organisation.

  2. Organisational Culture: The success of any security framework depends on the organisation’s culture and values. Without a strong security culture, even the most advanced technical controls may be bypassed or disregarded by employees. A culture that promotes security consciousness, accountability, and continuous improvement is essential to ensure that the Essential 8 Controls are effectively implemented and maintained.

  3. Incident Response and Recovery: While the Essential 8 Controls are designed to prevent and detect cyber incidents, organisations must also have robust incident response and recovery processes in place. Without effective response mechanisms, the controls alone cannot mitigate the impact of security incidents. Incident response plans should be regularly tested, updated, and communicated to relevant personnel, ensuring a timely and efficient response to security breaches.

  4. Compliance and Governance: Organisations often face regulatory and legal obligations concerning data protection and security. Compliance with relevant laws and regulations should be an integral part of the cybersecurity strategy. The Essential 8 Controls can contribute to meeting compliance requirements, but a comprehensive governance framework that includes people and process is necessary to ensure ongoing adherence to regulatory obligations.

  5. Risk Assessment and Management: Effective risk management involves understanding the organisation’s unique threat landscape and tailoring security controls accordingly. People and process considerations are crucial in conducting accurate risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, and determining the appropriate controls to implement. Relying solely on the Essential 8 Controls may overlook specific risks and leave organisations exposed to potential threats.

  6. Continuous Improvement and Adaptability: Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, necessitating ongoing monitoring and adaptation of security controls. People and process are vital in maintaining a proactive cybersecurity posture. Organisations must establish mechanisms for feedback, evaluation, and improvement, empowering employees to report potential security incidents and suggesting enhancements to existing controls.

  7. Collaboration and Communication: Lastly, the successful implementation of the Essential 8 Controls relies on effective collaboration and communication among all stakeholders. Establishing clear lines of communication, promoting information sharing, and fostering collaboration between IT, security teams, and end-users are crucial elements in ensuring the controls’ effectiveness.

The Essential 8 Controls provide a baseline of technical controls for organisations to enhance their cybersecurity posture but only a small component of cyber security or the organisation. However, to maximise their effectiveness, organisations must recognise the importance of people and process in conjunction with these controls. By investing in training, promoting a security-conscious culture, and integrating controls into robust processes, organisations can build a resilient cybersecurity framework that aligns technical measures with human behaviour and organisational needs.


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