Ever since the cyber world is being affected by the intruders, people working on the cyber security area have started to identify and name different types of cyber threats. Zero-day threat or Zero-day exploit is such an event. Let’s get to know more about it and how to stay safe from such zero-day attacks & vulnerabilities.
In the basic number line, what comes before 1? Most will agree, 0.
In the cyber world, a zero-day threat refers to such a threat or vulnerability for which the cyber security providers have “zero day” to create an answer to protect the affected devices.
Basically, a cyber threat which is yet to be known or discovered by the software vendor or the public. The name Zero-day comes from the idea that there is no time (aka Zero-day) to fix or patch the vulnerability before it does the damage.
Like most other cybert hreats, Zero-day threats can be leveraged by attackers to gain unauthorized access, compromise systems, steal data, or perform other malicious activities without the knowledge of the software developers or the victims. These vulnerabilities are particularly more dangerous because there is no patch or fix available at the time of discovery. It leaves the affected software and its users vulnerable to exploitation until a fix is developed and deployed.
There are two sides to a zero-day threat’s discovery. If discovered by a perpetrator, any zero-day vulnerabilities will most likely be kept secret and sold to other malicious actors on the black market. On the other hand, when security researchers or white-hat hackers discover something similar. they report these vulnerabilities to the software vendor, allowing them to develop a patch or mitigation before it can be exploited by cyber criminals.
As per the definition, Zero-day threats are not “preventable” by that sense. These threats are unknown to software vendors and security experts. That means, you can not prevent a threat that is yet to be discovered. However, it never means that you have nothing to do against such a threat. In fact, it’s the opposite, the safety mostly depends on you, the user. Some best practices are also applicable here. Let’s look at the remedies that can keep you safe from such unfortunate events.
Regular Software Updates: A strong step against such vulnerabilities is keeping the software updated. All your operating system, applications, and security software should be up to date. Vendors often release patches and updates that address known vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of exploitation.
Defense-in-Depth Strategy: Multi-layered approach can help detect and prevent different types of attacks, including zero-day threats. Employ multiple layers of security controls, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), antivirus software, and endpoint protection.
Network Segmentation: Divide your network into segments or zones, separating critical systems and data from the rest of the network. By limiting access and isolating sensitive resources, you can contain the impact of a zero-day threat if one occurs.
Vulnerability Management: Regularly scan and assess your systems and applications for vulnerabilities. Use vulnerability management tools to identify weaknesses and prioritize patching based on the severity of the vulnerabilities.
Intrusion Detection and Prevention: Deploy intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) to monitor network traffic for suspicious patterns or anomalies. These systems can help detect and block zero-day threats by identifying unusual behavior.
User Education and Awareness: At the end of the day, if the user is not aware enough, there will be casualties. So, educate users about safe online practices like avoiding suspicious websites, not opening email attachments from unknown sources, and being cautious when clicking on links. User awareness can help prevent the initial infection vectors often used in zero-day attacks, such as phishing emails or malicious websites.
Threat Intelligence: Stay updated on the latest security threats and vulnerabilities by monitoring industry news, security blogs, and subscribing to threat intelligence services. This information can help you understand emerging zero-day threats and take appropriate preventive measures.
Incident Response Plan: A zero-day attack can happen anytime, so a plan to mitigate the situation should be available. Develop an incident response plan to guide your actions in the event of a zero-day attack. This plan should include steps for containing the threat, investigating the impact, and recovering systems and data.
It’s important to remember that while these measures can significantly reduce the risk of zero-day threats, they cannot guarantee complete protection. It’s crucial to stay vigilant, keep systems updated, and be prepared to respond effectively to any security incident.