Checklist for ASD Essential 8 Audit

Checklist for ASD Essential 8 Audit: Ensuring Cybersecurity Compliance

In the digital era, with threats to cybersecurity escalating alarmingly, protecting sensitive information and infrastructure should be paramount for every organisation. The Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) Essential 8 framework provides a strategic compilation of cyber defence strategies pivotal for securing systems against a multitude of cyber threats. This blog post serves as a robust checklist tailored for Compliance Officers, CISOs, Directors, and Business Owners aiming to ensure that their cybersecurity measures are aligned with the renowned ASD Essential 8 guidelines.

Understanding the ASD Essential 8

Before diving into the audit checklist, it’s crucial to understand what the ASD Essential 8 is and why it is a cornerstone of a solid cybersecurity strategy. The ASD Essential 8 is a set of practices that, when properly implemented, greatly enhance an organisation’s resilience against cyberattacks. It is a prioritised list of mitigation strategies developed to protect systems by either preventing, limiting, or containing the impact of security incidents.

The framework targets areas such as malware prevention, limiting the extent of cyberattacks, and recovery from data loss. In an ever-evolving threat landscape, adherence to these practices isn’t just recommended; it’s a fundamental component of cybersecurity hygiene.

Checklist for ASD Essential 8 Audit

Let’s break down the ASD Essential 8 into actionable components to help you conduct a comprehensive audit of your organisation’s current security stance.

Application Whitelisting

  • [ ] Identify unauthorised software and put controls in place to prevent them from executing.
  • [ ] Regularly update and review the whitelist to ensure up-to-date protection.

Patch Applications

  • [ ] Maintain an up-to-date list of all third-party applications used.
  • [ ] Implement procedures to prioritise and remediate known vulnerabilities promptly.

Configure Microsoft Office Macros

  • [ ] Disable macro settings in Microsoft Office where they are not needed.
  • [ ] Restrict the use of macros to only trusted locations where necessary.

User Application Hardening

  • [ ] Disable features in web browsers and PDF viewers that have been identified as common attack vectors.
  • [ ] Control the installation of and access to web browser plugins.

Restrict Administrative Privileges

  • [ ] Audit current administrative privileges and justify or revoke as needed.
  • [ ] Employ strict controls and monitoring for the usage of privileged accounts.

Patch Operating Systems

  • [ ] Keep operating systems updated and regularly reviewed against vulnerability announcements.
  • [ ] Automate patches to maintain currency or have a rapid manual process prepared.

Multi-Factor Authentication

  • [ ] Require multi-factor authentication for as many services as possible, especially external access points to the network.
  • [ ] Ensure backup methods for MFA are secure and also compliant with organisational policies.

Daily Backup of Important Data

  • [ ] Implement daily backups and regularly test the restore process for critical data.
  • [ ] Store backups securely, both on-site and off-site, protected from ransomware.

Best Practices for Implementing the ASD Essential 8

Implementing the ASD Essential 8 is not just about ticking off items on a checklist. Here are some best practices to guide you toward effective adoption:

  • Adopt a proactive vs. reactive approach to security by regularly reviewing and updating your compliance status.
  • Involve all stakeholders early on and foster a culture of security awareness throughout your organisation.
  • Establish a clear plan and timeline for addressing any audit findings, and prioritise actions based on risk assessments.
  • Keep documentation up-to-date and accessible, as it can be vital for both internal operations and external audits.
  • Use the ASD Essential 8 Maturity Model to gauge your current compliance level and to map out improvement steps.


Completing an ASD Essential 8 audit is a significant step toward safeguarding your organisation’s integrity and operational continuity against cyber threats. This checklist is a starting point from which you can build a comprehensive defence-in-depth cybersecurity strategy. Remember that cybersecurity is not a one-off task but an ongoing process of improvement and vigilance.

By thoroughly understanding, implementing, and routinely conducting an ASD Essential 8 audit, your organisation will not only meet compliance requirements but will also establish a robust security posture capable of thwarting an array of sophisticated cyber threats.

Keywords: ASD Essential 8 Audit, Cybersecurity Compliance