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Understanding Zero-Day Attacks

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Zero-Day attacks is a hard reality that is almost impossible to stop. However, organizations can minimize the attacks by strategies. Read on to more about them…

In this cyber-world, one of the biggest security threats to organizations is the zero-day attack, which can spread an infection faster than most of the researchers can even react. Zero-day attacks are dangerous precisely because they are unexpected. Whereas organizations can prepare themselves for known threats, zero-day attacks occur out of the blue and are typically the work of unknown perpetrators.

Zero-day attacks can pose a high risk for a company or businesses if appropriate actions are not taken at the right time. It can even lead to loss of millions of dollars and put untold volumes of crucial and personal infomation at risk.

About Zero-Day Attacks
A zero-day vulnerability is a weakness within a computer network or software program that is unknown to the vendors or developers responsible for patching the security flaw and the hackers have already exploited it. When an security exploit occurs, it is usually because the hackers have discovered the weakness before the researchers or vendors even notice it exists. Sometimes, even if the weaknesses are quickly noticed, hackers manage to exploit the opportunity before the vendors or researchers have time to react.

For instance, a global site host could release an upgrade to its platform on a specific day, yet notice within 30 minutes of the launch that a vulnerability exists. However, a hacker could instantly spot this weakness within those 30 minutes, before the site developers have time to suspend the launch and develop a security patch.

Ground Reality
Unfortunately, security experts predict the frequency of these threats and attacks is only going to worsen with the prevalence of technology and the increase in the amount of code being created.

According to a study by Ponemon Institute, around 76% of the respondents claimed that the type of attacks suffered by their organizations in 2018, were new or unknown zero-day attacks. With the passing years, experts predict that the frequency of these threats and attacks is only going to worsen. Cybersecurity Ventures has predicted that by 2021, there will be one new exploit every day.

Zero-Day Attack Scenarios
A zero-day attack happens once the flaw or software/hardware vulnerability is exploited and attackers release malware before a developer has an opportunity to create a patch to fix the vulnerability.

Let’s take a look at a common zero-day attack scenario.

• A company’s developers create software but are unaware of the vulnerabilities it contains.
• The threat actor spots the flaw before the developers can react or have a chance to fix it.
• The attacker writes and implements exploit code while the vulnerability still exists.
• Once the exploit code is deployed, the public recognizes it either in the form of identity or information theft.

Mitigation
Organizations at security risk from such exploits can implement several steps of protection such as using virtual Local Area Networks (LANs), firewalls, a secure Wi-Fi system. Through this process, it will help organizations to minimize wireless malware attacks.

Other preventive steps include employing the most advanced security software, keeping security software up-to-date, updating the browsers and implementing security protocols. Users can minimize the risk of zero-day attacks by keeping their operating system up to date and using websites with SSL (Security Socket Layer) protection. The SSL secures the information being sent between the user and the site. However, the harsh reality is that it still does not guarantee absolute security from zero-day attacks.

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