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Securing Australia’s future: 10 steps to ensure compliance with The Critical Infrastructure Act

The Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (the Act) has established a rigorous framework for protecting Australia’s most vital assets from various threats, including cyberattacks. To help businesses navigate this complex legislation and strengthen their cybersecurity posture, we present ten actionable steps to comply with the Act and fortify Australia’s critical infrastructure.

Step 1: Understand the Act’s Scope

Familiarize yourself with the Act’s requirements and objectives to identify critical assets, manage security risks, and facilitate information sharing between industry and government. Determine whether your organization’s infrastructure falls under the Act’s purview, which includes industries such as energy, water, transportation, and telecommunications.

Are you in its scope? 

If your company provides essential services to Australia’s population or government, you are most likely in scope.

Step 2: Conduct Comprehensive Risk Assessments

Perform systematic and evidence-based risk assessments to identify your systems’ vulnerabilities, threat actors, and potential attack vectors. Use established frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or the Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight to guide your efforts.

You will most likely need external assistance for that second step, most notably because an impartial view of your IT infrastructure is the only way to establish what needs to be changed, why, and how. An internal assessment made by your own IT or security team will most likely be biased and entangled in internal company politics and dependencies.

Step 3: Develop Robust Security Plans

Based on your risk assessments, create and implement detailed security plans outlining the protective measures, response strategies, and recovery procedures necessary to mitigate identified risks. Regularly review and update these plans to account for changes in the threat landscape.

After an external security assessment, developing your Security plan is also something best trusted to an external party with experience in creating such plans for companies like yours.

Step 4: Foster a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness

Promote cybersecurity best practices among employees through ongoing training, communication, and recognition of proactive behavior. Encourage staff to take responsibility for security and contribute to the organization’s overall resilience.

An excellent way to establish such a culture is to run regular drills, exercises and social engineering/phishing simulations.

Step 5: Allocate Adequate Resources

Invest in the technology, personnel, and training necessary to support your cybersecurity initiatives. This may involve hiring dedicated security staff or partnering with third-party providers for specialized services.

Your IT team is the most critical element in cybersecurity training – provide them with function-specific training. Focus on your systems administrators – ensure they obtain secure systems administration knowledge, targeting secure server and desktop management.

Step 6: Implement Advanced Cybersecurity Technologies

Enhance your cybersecurity defenses by leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain, and adopting a zero-trust security model. These tools can help you detect and respond to threats more effectively and ensure the integrity of your critical data.

Step 7: Collaborate and Share Information

Establish open lines of communication with industry partners, regulators, and government agencies to share threat intelligence, best practices, and information about emerging threats. Collaboration is vital for enhancing collective defenses against cyber threats.

Step 8: Monitor and Report Security Incidents

Implement monitoring systems to detect security incidents, and promptly report any incidents to the relevant authorities. Provide information about the nature of the incident, the affected assets, and the actions taken in response.

Step 9: Stay Informed on Evolving Threats

Regularly review threat intelligence reports, subscribe to cybersecurity news outlets, and participate in industry forums to stay informed about the latest threats and mitigation techniques. Staying current is essential for adapting to the dynamic nature of cybersecurity risks.

Step 10: Continuously Improve and Adapt

Embrace a continuous improvement process for your cybersecurity standing. This includes periodic reviews of the security plan created during initial compliance efforts, risk assessments, and protective measures. By staying agile and responsive, your organization can effectively address new and evolving threats as they emerge.

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