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Guidelines for ICT Equipment

This chapter of the ISM provides guidance on ICT equipment.

ICT equipment usage

ICT equipment management policy

Since ICT equipment is capable of processing, storing or communicating sensitive or classified data, it is important that an ICT equipment management policy is developed and implemented to ensure that ICT equipment, and the data it processes, stores or communicates, is protected in an appropriate manner.

Security Control: ISM-1551; Revision: 0; Updated: Aug-19; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
An ICT equipment management policy is developed and implemented.

ICT equipment register

Maintaining and regularly verifying a register of authorised ICT equipment can assist an organisation in tracking legitimate ICT equipment as well as determining whether unauthorised ICT equipment, such as workstations, servers and network devices, have been introduced into their organisation.

Security Control: ISM-0336; Revision: 6; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
An ICT equipment register is maintained and verified on a regular basis.

Labelling ICT equipment

Applying protective markings to ICT equipment assists to reduce the likelihood that a user will accidentally input data into it that it is not approved for processing, storing or communicating.

While text-based protective markings are typically used for labelling ICT equipment, there may be circumstances where colour-based protective markings or other marking schemes need to be used instead. In such cases, the marking scheme will need to be documented and personnel will need to be trained in its use.

Security Control: ISM-0294; Revision: 4; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment, with the exception of high assurance ICT equipment, is labelled with protective markings reflecting its sensitivity or classification.

Labelling high assurance ICT equipment

High assurance ICT equipment often has tamper-evident seals placed on its external surfaces. To assist users in noticing changes to these seals, and to prevent functionality being degraded, an organisation should limit the use of labels on high assurance ICT equipment.

Security Control: ISM-0296; Revision: 5; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)’s approval is sought before applying labels to external surfaces of high assurance ICT equipment.

Classifying ICT equipment

The purpose of classifying ICT equipment is to acknowledge the sensitivity or classification of data that it is approved for processing, storing or communicating.

Classifying ICT equipment also assists in ensuring that the appropriate sanitisation, destruction and disposal processes are followed at the end of its life.

Security Control: ISM-0293; Revision: 5; Updated: Jun-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment is classified based on the highest sensitivity or classification of data that it is approved for processing, storing or communicating.

Handling ICT equipment

When ICT equipment displays, processes, stores or communicates sensitive or classified data, it will need to be handled as per the sensitivity or classification of that data. However, applying encryption to media within the ICT equipment may change the manner in which it needs to be handled. Any change in handling needs to be based on the original sensitivity or classification of data residing on media within the ICT equipment and the level of assurance in the cryptographic equipment or software being used to encrypt it.

Security Control: ISM-1599; Revision: 0; Updated: Aug-20; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment is handled in a manner suitable for its sensitivity or classification.

Further information

Further information on securing ICT equipment when not in use can be found in the ICT equipment and media section of the Guidelines for Physical Security.

Further information on encrypting media within ICT equipment can be found in the cryptographic fundamentals section of the Guidelines for Cryptography.

Further information on the protection of ICT equipment can be found in the Attorney-General’s Department’s Protective Security Policy Framework, Physical security for entity resources policy.

ICT equipment maintenance and repairs

Maintenance and repairs of high assurance ICT equipment

Due to the nature of high assurance ICT equipment, it is important that that ACSC’s approval is sought before any maintenance or repairs are undertaken.

Security Control: ISM-1079; Revision: 5; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
The ACSC’s approval is sought before undertaking any maintenance or repairs to high assurance ICT equipment.

On-site maintenance and repairs

Undertaking unauthorised maintenance or repairs to ICT equipment could impact its integrity. As such, using appropriately cleared technicians to maintain and repair ICT equipment on site is considered the most secure approach. This ensures that if data is disclosed during the course of maintenance or repairs, the technicians are aware of the requirements to protect such data.

An organisation choosing to use uncleared technicians to maintain or repair ICT equipment should be aware of the requirement for cleared personnel to escort uncleared technicians during maintenance or repair activities.

Security Control: ISM-0305; Revision: 6; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Maintenance and repairs of ICT equipment is carried out on site by an appropriately cleared technician.

Security Control: ISM-0307; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
If an uncleared technician is used to undertake maintenance or repairs of ICT equipment, the ICT equipment and associated media is sanitised before maintenance or repair work is undertaken.

Security Control: ISM-0306; Revision: 5; Updated: Jun-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
If an uncleared technician is used to undertake maintenance or repairs of ICT equipment, the technician is escorted by someone who:

  • is appropriately cleared and briefed
  • takes due care to ensure that data is not disclosed
  • takes all responsible measures to ensure the integrity of the ICT equipment
  • has the authority to direct the technician
  • is sufficiently familiar with the ICT equipment to understand the work being performed.

Off-site maintenance and repairs

An organisation choosing to have ICT equipment maintained or repaired off site should do so at facilities approved for handling the sensitivity or classification of the ICT equipment. However, an organisation may be able to sanitise the ICT equipment prior to transport, and subsequent maintenance or repair activities, to change how it needs to be handled.

Security Control: ISM-0310; Revision: 7; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment maintained or repaired off site is done so at facilities approved for handling the sensitivity or classification of the ICT equipment.

Inspection of ICT equipment following maintenance and repairs

Following the maintenance or repair of ICT equipment, it is important that the ICT equipment is inspected to ensure that it retains its approved software configuration and that no unauthorised modifications have been made by technicians.

Security Control: ISM-1598; Revision: 0; Updated: Aug-20; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Following maintenance or repair activities for ICT equipment, the ICT equipment is inspected to confirm it retains its approved software configuration and that no unauthorised modifications have taken place.

Further information

Further information on the sanitisation of media can be found in the media sanitisation section of the Guidelines for Media.

ICT equipment sanitisation and destruction

ICT equipment sanitisation processes and procedures

Documenting processes and procedures for ICT equipment sanitisation will ensure that an organisation carries out ICT equipment sanitisation in an appropriate and consistent manner.

Security Control: ISM-0313; Revision: 5; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment sanitisation processes, and supporting ICT equipment sanitisation procedures, are developed and implemented.

ICT equipment destruction processes and procedures

Documenting processes and procedures for ICT equipment destruction will ensure that an organisation carries out ICT equipment destruction in an appropriate and consistent manner.

Security Control: ISM-1741; Revision: 0; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment destruction processes, and supporting ICT equipment destruction procedures, are developed and implemented.

Sanitising ICT equipment

When sanitising ICT equipment, any media within the ICT equipment should be removed or sanitised. Once any media has been removed or sanitised, ICT equipment can be considered sanitised. However, if media cannot be removed or sanitised, the ICT equipment should be destroyed as per media destruction requirements.

Media typically found in ICT equipment includes:

  • electrostatic memory devices, such as laser printer cartridges used in multifunction devices (MFDs)
  • non-volatile magnetic memory, such as hard disks
  • non-volatile semiconductor memory, such as flash cards and solid state drives
  • volatile memory, such as random-access memory sticks.

Security Control: ISM-0311; Revision: 6; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment containing media is sanitised by removing the media from the ICT equipment or by sanitising the media in situ.

Security Control: ISM-1742; Revision: 0; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment that cannot be sanitised is destroyed.

Sanitising highly sensitive ICT equipment

ICT equipment located overseas that has processed, stored or communicated Australian Eyes Only (AUSTEO) or Australian Government Access Only (AGAO) data can have more severe consequences for Australian interests if not sanitised appropriately.

Security Control: ISM-1218; Revision: 4; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment, including associated media, that is located overseas and has processed, stored or communicated AUSTEO or AGAO data, is sanitised in situ.

Security Control: ISM-0312; Revision: 6; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment, including associated media, that is located overseas and has processed, stored or communicated AUSTEO or AGAO data that cannot be sanitised in situ, is returned to Australia for destruction.

Destroying high assurance ICT equipment

Due to the nature of high assurance ICT equipment, and many of the protective mechanisms it employs, sanitisation alone is not sufficient prior to its disposal. As such, all high assurance ICT equipment should be destroyed prior to its disposal.

Security Control: ISM-0315; Revision: 8; Updated: Mar-22; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
High assurance ICT equipment is destroyed prior to its disposal.

Sanitising printers and multifunction devices

When sanitising printers and MFDs, the printer cartridge or MFD print drum should be sanitised in addition to the removal or sanitisation of any media. This can be achieved by printing random text with no blank areas on each colour printer cartridge or MFD print drum. In addition, image transfer rollers and platens can become imprinted with text and images over time and should be destroyed if any text or images have been retained. Finally, any paper jammed in the paper path should be removed.

When printer cartridges and MFD print drums cannot be sanitised due to a hardware failure, or when they are empty, there is no other option available but to destroy them. Printer ribbons cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

Security Control: ISM-0317; Revision: 3; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
At least three pages of random text with no blank areas are printed on each colour printer cartridge or MFD print drum.

Security Control: ISM-1219; Revision: 2; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
MFD print drums and image transfer rollers are inspected and destroyed if there is remnant toner which cannot be removed or a print is visible on the image transfer roller.

Security Control: ISM-1220; Revision: 2; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Printer and MFD platens are inspected and destroyed if any text or images are retained on the platen.

Security Control: ISM-1221; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Printers and MFDs are checked to ensure no pages are trapped in the paper path due to a paper jam.

Security Control: ISM-0318; Revision: 3; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
When unable to sanitise printer cartridges or MFD print drums, they are destroyed as per electrostatic memory devices.

Security Control: ISM-1534; Revision: 0; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Printer ribbons in printers and MFDs are removed and destroyed.

Sanitising televisions and computer monitors

All types of televisions and computer monitors are capable of retaining data if mitigating measures are not taken during their lifetime. Cathode Ray Tube monitors and plasma screens can be affected by burn-in while Liquid Crystal Display and Organic Light Emitting Diode screens can be affected by image persistence.

Televisions and computer monitors can be visually inspected by turning up the brightness and contrast to their maximum level to determine if any data has been burnt into or persists on the screen. If burn-in or image persistence is removed by this activity, televisions and computer monitors can be considered sanitised. However, if burn-in or persistence is not removed through these measures, televisions and computer monitors cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

If televisions or computer monitors cannot be powered on, such as due to a faulty power supply, they cannot be sanitised and should be destroyed.

Security Control: ISM-1076; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Televisions and computer monitors with minor burn-in or image persistence are sanitised by displaying a solid white image on the screen for an extended period of time.

Security Control: ISM-1222; Revision: 1; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Televisions and computer monitors that cannot be sanitised are destroyed.

Sanitising network devices

As network devices can store network configuration data or credentials in their memory, the memory should be sanitised prior to the disposal of the network devices. The correct method to sanitise network devices will depend on their configuration and the type of memory they use. As such, device-specific guidance provided in evaluation documentation, or vendor sanitisation guidance, should be consulted to determine the most appropriate method to sanitise memory in network devices.

Security Control: ISM-1223; Revision: 6; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Memory in network devices is sanitised using the following processes, in order of preference:

  • following device-specific guidance provided in evaluation documentation
  • following vendor sanitisation guidance
  • loading a dummy configuration file, performing a factory reset and then reinstalling firmware.

Sanitising fax machines

As fax machines can store pages that are ready for transmission in their memory, the memory should be sanitised prior to the disposal of the fax machines. This can be achieved by removing the paper tray, transmitting a fax message with a minimum length of four pages, then re-installing the paper tray and allowing a fax summary page to be printed. In addition, any paper that becomes trapped in the paper path should be removed prior to disposal.

Security Control: ISM-1225; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
The paper tray of the fax machine is removed, and a fax message with a minimum length of four pages is transmitted, before the paper tray is re-installed to allow a fax summary page to be printed.

Security Control: ISM-1226; Revision: 2; Updated: Sep-18; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Fax machines are checked to ensure no pages are trapped in the paper path due to a paper jam.

Further information

Further information on the sanitisation of media can be found in the media sanitisation section of the Guidelines for Media.

Further information on the destruction of media can be found in the media destruction section of the Guidelines for Media.

Further information on the sanitisation of network devices is available from vendors and can be found in evaluation documentation on the Common Criteria’s Certified Products List.

ICT equipment disposal

ICT equipment disposal processes and procedures

Documenting processes and procedures for ICT equipment disposal will ensure that an organisation carries out ICT equipment disposal in an appropriate and consistent manner.

Security Control: ISM-1550; Revision: 1; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
ICT equipment disposal processes, and supporting ICT equipment disposal procedures, are developed and implemented.

Disposal of ICT equipment

Before ICT equipment can be released into the public domain, it needs to be sanitised, destroyed or declassified. As sanitised, destroyed or declassified ICT equipment still presents a security risk, albeit very minor, an appropriate authority needs to formally authorise its release into the public domain. Furthermore, as part of disposal processes, removing labels and markings indicating the owner, sensitivity, classification or any other marking that can associate ICT equipment with its prior use will ensure it does not draw undue attention following its disposal.

Security Control: ISM-1217; Revision: 2; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Labels and markings indicating the owner, sensitivity, classification or any other marking that can associate ICT equipment with its prior use are removed prior to its disposal.

Security Control: ISM-0321; Revision: 4; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: S, TS; Essential Eight: N/A
When disposing of ICT equipment that has been designed or modified to meet emanation security standards, the ACSC is contacted for requirements relating to its disposal.

Security Control: ISM-0316; Revision: 3; Updated: Dec-21; Applicability: All; Essential Eight: N/A
Following sanitisation, destruction or declassification, a formal administrative decision is made to release ICT equipment, or its waste, into the public domain.

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