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Zero-day attack & its detention strategy for your organization

Kartik Hirapara

7 Mins

2021 has broken all records for zero-day attacks. Cyber security defenders have found out the highest number ever in this year. *Minimum 66 zero-days have been found in use, almost double the total for 2020, and more than in any other year on record.

Regardless of the increased urgency in understanding the threat itself, there is still some confusion about What is meant by a zero-day attack?

If a hacker takes advantage of the vulnerability before software developers can find a fix, that breach is known as a zero-day attack.

Zero-day breach points can take almost any form because they can exhibit as any broader software vulnerability. For example, they could take the form of missing data encryption, SQL injection, buffer overflows, missing authorizations, broken algorithms, URL redirects, bugs, or problems with password security.

This makes it difficult to proactively find zero-day breach points—which in some ways is good news because it also means hackers will have a hard time finding them. But it also makes it difficult to guard against these breach spots effectively.

Why are zero-day attacks dangerous?

The repercussions of zero-day attacks are severely dangerous for organizations. They instantly result in damaging the technological assets that could cost companies millions of dollars and expose customers to additional cybersecurity threats.

Four significant risks that zero-day attacks pose to your customers:

  1. Scale and frequency

  2. Asymmetric complexity

  3. Long-tail to remediation

  4. Cloud-native and hybrid cloud risks

 Zero-day exploit and its timeline?

It is a method or technique threat actors can use to attack systems that have an unknown vulnerability. For example, one method is zero-day malware – a malicious program created by attackers to target a zero-day vulnerability.

Security researchers Bilge and Dumitras identify seven points in time that define the span of a zero-day attack:

1. Vulnerability introduced – vulnerable code is released as part of a software application or users deploy the software.

2. Exploit released in the wild – attackers have discovered the vulnerability and found a technique they can use to attack vulnerable systems.

3. Vulnerability discovered by the vendor – the vendor becomes aware of the exposure, but a patch is still unavailable.

4. Vulnerability is disclosed publicly – the vendor, or security researchers, announce the exposure, making both users and attackers widely aware of it.

5. Anti-virus signatures released – if attackers have created zero-day malware, anti-virus vendors can identify its signature relatively quickly and protect against it. Systems could still be exposed because there may be other ways of exploiting the vulnerability.

6. Patch released – the vendor eventually releases a fix for the vulnerability; this could take between a few hours to months, depending on the complexity of the fix and the priority of fixing it in their development process.

7. Patch deployment completed – even after a patch is released, users can take a long time to deploy it.

 Systems targeted by zero-day attacks:

A zero-day attack can exploit breach points in different systems and platforms:

  • Operating systems – The most attractive target for zero-day attacks due to their ubiquity and the possibilities they offer attackers to gain control of user systems.

  • Web browsers – an unpatched vulnerability can allow attackers to perform drive-by downloads, execute scripts, or run executable files on user machines.

  • Office applications – malware embedded in documents or other files often exploits zero-day vulnerabilities in the underlying application used to edit them.

  • Open source components – some open source projects are not actively maintained or do not have sound security practices. Software vendors might use these components unaware of the vulnerabilities they contain.

  • Watering holes – software programs that organizations or home users widely use are under close scrutiny by attackers who search for unknown vulnerabilities.

  • Hardware – a vulnerability in a router, switch, network appliance, or a home device such as a gaming console can allow attackers to compromise these devices, disrupting their activity or using them to build massive botnets.

  • Internet of Things (IoT) – connected devices, from home appliances and televisions to sensors, connected cars, and factory machinery, are all vulnerable to zero-day attacks. Many IoT devices lack the process for patching or updating their software.

Zero-day attack detection strategy that works for your organization:

It’s difficult to protect yourself from the possibility of a zero-day attack since they can take many forms. If a patch is not produced in time, almost any type of security vulnerability could be exploited as a zero-day. Many software developers do not reveal the vulnerability, considering they can update it with a patch.

There are a few strategies that can help you defend your business against zero-day attacks:

  • Stay informed

  • Zero-day exploits aren’t always publicized, but you’ll occasionally hear about a vulnerability that could be exploited. If you stay tuned to the news and pay attention to releases from your software vendors, you may have time to put in security measures or respond to a threat before it gets exploited.

  • Keep your systems updated.

  • Developers constantly work to keep their software updated and patched to prevent the possibility of exploitation. When a vulnerability is discovered, it’s only a matter of time before they issue a patch. You and your team must make sure to keep your software up to date at all times. The best approach here is to enable automatic updates, so your software is updated routinely and without the need for manual intervention.

  • Employ additional security measures

  • Ensure that you are using security solutions that protect against zero-day attacks because these security measures may not be enough to protect you from a zero-day attack fully.

Security assessment with vTech:

Today, public agencies are battling sophisticated multi-vector attacks across email, phishing, mobile, cloud, and various networks. These pervasive and sophisticated cyber-attacks require a holistic cyber-security architecture that provides:

  • Integrated, automated, and preventative state-of-the-art next-generation solutions

  • Covering every point of presence where their users and data reside:

  • Network & IoT Device Security

  • Cloud Security -public and private, multi-cloud

  • Workforce Security-Mobile devices, endpoints, email, and or messaging platforms

  • The Benefits of centralized and easy to use management and reporting are that few individuals can run

  • At a predictable cost; that can be easy to acquire and use

To do this vTech works with their technology partners to develop a unified architecture, which provides leading recommended technologies that work together to prevent sophisticated attacks, sharing intelligence in near real-time, and secure Endpoints (PCs, Macs, iOS and Android), cloud (Public IaaS, Private IaaS, Office 365, G-Suite, Box etc.), and traditional networks. This adaptive architecture provides enterprises with the best and most advanced threat prevention technologies, enabling them to run their business in a secure way today and in the future.

vTech assists agencies in quickly acquiring and utilizing this architecture across their entire network in a unified, simple, and flexible way. In addition, we allow them to consume the complete threat prevention they need in an all-inclusive, per-year subscription offering.

Are you interested in guarding your organization against the possibility of a zero-day attack? Or do you have a need for increased security overall? Book a slot with vTech for a free consultation

Book Now!

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