Organisations that align with The Essential 8 cyber security framework will now be more likely to win tenders and get funding. As the Australian Government steps up efforts to fight cyber-crime, aligning with The Essential 8 is being included in tender and funding eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria.

Overview of The Essential 8

The Essential 8 is a set of baseline cyber strategies developed by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) to guide organisations in protecting their information and systems from cyber threats. The eight strategies are:

  1. Application control
  2. Patching applications
  3. Configuring Microsoft Office macro settings
  4. User application hardening
  5. Restriction of administrative privileges
  6. Patching operating systems
  7. Multi-factor authentication
  8. Regular backups

The framework follows a maturity model with four maturity levels:

  • Maturity Level Zero indicates significant weaknesses in the overall cyber security posture of an organisation.
  • Maturity Level One is partial compliance with The Essential 8, having security vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit.
  • Maturity Level Two means full alignment with The Essential 8 and much stronger protection against cyber threats.
  • Maturity Level Three is reached when all cyber security policies and procedures are in place and being implemented effectively. It shows a culture of security within an organisation, where all staff are aware of their responsibilities.

Organisations that follow The Essential 8 will be most likely to deter cyber threats, most prepared for cyber incidents, and most capable of speedy recovery from an attack. Your business will also enhance compliance with industry regulations.

Do you know the 8 cyber essentials?

The Essential 8 in Tenders & Funding

The Government intends to make Australia the global cyber security leader by 2030. Some moves toward this end include:

One of the next measures is the inclusion of The Essential 8 as part of evaluation criteria for tenders and funding. This is meant to encourage more organisations to follow the framework. Here’s how it’s being done:

Tender & Funding Requirements

To ensure the security of their sensitive data and systems, organisations must now include cybersecurity requirements when taking part in Government tenders and funding offers.

The Essential 8 will be referenced in tender documents and funding rounds as a baseline for cybersecurity controls. It can guide businesses in showing their commitment to cybersecurity and their capability to meet the required standards.

Tender Evaluation Criteria Benchmark

When evaluating tenders and funding rounds, Government agencies will use The Essential 8 as a benchmark in considering the cybersecurity measures proposed by businesses. Those that align with the framework will be viewed more favourably in the evaluation process.

Funding Eligibility Priority

Likewise, Government funding programs aimed at supporting cybersecurity initiatives will prioritise businesses that adopt best practices and show a commitment to cybersecurity — giving them a higher chance of receiving funding support.

Compliance Requirements in Contracts

Some Government and Defence contracts as well as funding agreements will include compliance obligations related to cybersecurity. The Essential 8 can be incorporated into contractual requirements as a mandatory standard for businesses to follow, to ensure that minimum cybersecurity expectations are met.

Risk Assessment & Mitigation

The Essential 8 will be used by Government agencies to assess the cybersecurity risks associated with funded projects or contracted services. This can help to minimise the risk of cyber incidents and protect sensitive information and systems.

Support for Capacity Building

Government funding programs may allocate resources to support capacity building initiatives for cybersecurity. The Essential 8 can be used by businesses as a reference for training programs and workshops aimed at improving cybersecurity skills and knowledge. Funding recipients can also be encouraged to integrate the framework’s principles into their cybersecurity practices.

Overall, incorporating the Essential 8 into tenders and funding initiatives:

  • a standardised approach to cybersecurity
  • Helps raise the cybersecurity posture of Australian businesses
  • Fosters a culture of security
  • Ensures that government investments are directed towards projects and services that meet established cybersecurity standards

How to align with The Essential 8

When participating in Government tenders and funding processes, your organisation can take these steps to align with The Essential 8 framework:

  1. Assess your current security posture.
  2. the gaps in your security controls vis-a-vis The Essential 8.
  3. Implement the necessary adjustments and controls.
  4. Monitor your systems for threats.
  5. Educate your users about cyber security.

Tips for implementing cyber security measures

Here are some best practices for aligning with the Essential 8:

Do it in steps. Don’t try to implement all the controls at once. Start with the most critical areas and then work your way down the list.

Be patient. It takes time to implement The Essential 8 controls. Don’t expect to be fully compliant overnight.

Keep up to date. The Essential 8 framework is constantly evolving. Make sure to keep up to date with the latest changes.

Get help from a reputable MSP. Cyber security can get complicated. A managed service provider (MSP) or cyber security consultant can help you throughout the entire process.

Join the fight: Level up your cyber safety

Assessing your current cyber security situation can involve a lot of technical knowledge and skills, so it’s best to consult with specialists. You can ask the Future IT Services team any question about boosting your online protection. Get in touch with them now or call 07 4058 5700 today.

By taking this first step, you are also joining the Government’s fight against cybercrime – together we can make Australia the cyber security leader in the world.