What are zero-day attacks and how to prevent them ?  

There are different types of security vulnerabilities and opportunities for cyberhackers. Organizations are responsible for protecting themselves, their systems, and data from these attacks to adhere to regulatory compliance and keep their data safe. But one of the most common flaws to protect against, is zero-day vulnerability and attacks. If any company has a zero-day vulnerability, they have a critical issue.

What is a zero-day?

“Zero-day” is a fairly common term in the world of cybersecurity. It refers to existing vulnerabilities in the wild without the software’s manufacturer’s knowledge and leaves them the freedom to attack software and systems. Once manufacturers or IT experts locate the issue, they have “zero-days” to fix it since they’re already at risk. Once hackers have infiltrated a network, they can either attack immediately or wait for the optimal time to do so.

Words such as vulnerability, exploit, and attack are frequently used alongside zero-day, and it’s essential to understand the difference between these three words:

  • Zero-day vulnerability: It’s a software weakness that attackers can discover and exploit before the manufacturer detects it. Because the vendor is unaware, no patch exists for zero-day vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to succeed.
  • Zero-day exploit: Hackers use the method to gain access to the system by using the unspecified vulnerability to their benefit.
  • Zero-day attack: It’s the malicious use of a zero-day exploit to cause damage or steal data from a system impacted by a vulnerability. It’s hazardous since only attackers themselves are the ones who know about it.

After the exploit release, either the public recognizes the issue in identity or data theft, or the developer catches the malware and creates a patch to staunch the cyber-bleeding.

But these attacks are rarely discovered right away. It often takes days, months, and sometimes years before a developer learns of the vulnerability that leads to a specific cyber attack.

According to the MIT Technology review,  At least 66 zero-days have been found in 2021 which is, almost double the total for 2020, and more than in any other year on record.

3 ways to help you prevent zero-day attacks

There are a few strategies and cyber security best practices for organizations to follow to avoid zero-day attacks , such as:

1 – Keep your operating systems up to date:

Updates usually include security patches to cover newly identified vulnerabilities to block zero-day attacks.

Developers work consistently to keep their software up to date and patched, to avoid the possibility of exploitation. When developers discover system vulnerabilities, it’s only time before a patch is issued. However, it’s the organization’s responsibility and team to ensure that its software platforms are constantly updated. The best strategy here is to enable automatic updates, which will ensure that software is updated regularly and without the need for manual intervention.

2 – Educate staff and employees

Many zero-day attacks capitalize on human error. Educating employees about security habits and good practices is highly important. It is essential to be attentive to all security protocols, know what measures to take when detecting a potential cyber attack, and help keep them safe online.

3 – Empower your SOCs with vulnerability management system:

Organizations need to ensure that they are implementing effective cyber security protocol  to protect them against zero-day attacks. Therefore, using a Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM) system not only helps SecOps teams control the risk of vulnerabilities in an environment, but it also allows them to detect and remove said vulnerabilities.

The nature of zero-day attacks makes them hard to track. That’s why it’s essential to understand how they function and why organizations are victims of zero-day attacks. To be prepared for any potential cyber risks, regular updates and use of cyber security solutions are essential to improve zero-day vulnerabilities detection.

Although external cyber threats are one of the biggest challenges companies are facing nowadays, internal data breaches remain also a nightmare even to the biggest organizations. Want to learn more about it?
Check out this blog: 4 most at-risk industries from internal data breaches