(Australian Associated Press)

Businesses are being urged to take eight simple steps to reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

The federal government has released what it says is a new global standard for cyber security, developed by the Australian Signals Directorate to help businesses mitigate risk.

The “essential eight” strategies will help protect business from ransomware, malicious insiders, emails being compromised, threats to industrial control systems and adversaries with destructive intentions, the government says.

They are similar to strategies intelligence officials will outline to political parties in special cyber security briefings.

Eight steps for better cyber security:

  1. Application whitelisting to allow only approved software applications to run on computers
  2. Patch applications to fix security vulnerabilities in software
  3. Disable untrusted Microsoft Office macros which could be used to enable the download of malware onto computer systems
  4. User application hardening that blocks web browser access to Adobe Flash player, web advertisements and untrusted Java code
  5. Restrict administrator privileges for managing systems and installing software and patches to only users that absolutely need them
  6. Patch operating systems to fix vulnerabilities
  7. Use multi-factor authentication to make it harder for third parties to access information
  8. Backup important data daily so information can be quickly recovered in the event of a cyber security incident.

More details are available from the Australian Signals Directorate at asd.gov.au/infosec/mitigationstrategies.