Zero-day Exploit

A zero-day exploit finds and targets hardware or software program vulnerability or vulnerabilities which are still unknown to hardware and software or antivirus vendors. The attackers, then exploits these unknown security flaws and uses them for cyber-attacks. These attacks have high success rates because of zero defense available to the security flaws present in the software that is targeted, thus making these attacks a severe security threat.

The common intrusions happen on Web browsers and email attachments that exploits weakness in the application and files from day-to-day used applications. The attackers constantly monitor large enterprises, Internet of Things (IoT), hardware devices…etc. to spot such vulnerabilities. Some examples of zero-day attacks are DNC Hack, Aurora, Windows, Java and many such more.

As patches or antivirus signatures for zero-day flaws are non-existent and cannot be expected, let us look at how to mitigate such attacks.

Detection and mitigation

 

  • As mentioned above, it is impossible to create patches or antivirus signatures for zero-day vulnerabilities, but there are a few ways to detect them
  • By getting a thorough vulnerability scanning on the yet to be released hardware or software programs or any new updates/upgrades, flaws can be detected and appropriate actions taken on them. Though, not all exploits are expected to be detected, the less vulnerabilities exposed to the malicious hackers outside, the better.
  • Once any new software or firmware or any updates are released, the developers must be on high alert to try and discover any zero-day security flaws in their products that may come to light, before the hackers can sight it and immediately start working on the patches, alerting their clients of the same as much as possible. This will mitigate the threat and thwart any attacks or further attacks -if the attack has already started to happen-, thus stopping the spread from fire balling to a broader spectrum.
  • From a user perspective, always try and update your software or firmware patches periodically.

 

Conclusion

Zero-day attacks can happen anytime and anywhere. No organization is safe from it, be it the company that develops the programs or the clients that use them. The bigger the organization, the bigger the gain for the attackers. Zero-day attacks are not something that can go away. Hence, it is prudent for all parties to be vigilant to safeguard their cyber infrastructure.