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What is a Zero-Day exploit?

What is a Zero-Day exploit?

Software commonly has vulnerabilities. Developers accidentally bake in security ‘flaws’ or holes into programs and hackers may try to take advantage of these flaws. For instance, a software program may contain a flaw that enables cyber criminals to access data that’s otherwise considered secure.

Software programmers continually monitor their software and that of others for flaws, which are also commonly called vulnerabilities. When vulnerabilities are found, programmers closely analyze them and design software ‘patches,’ which function like band-aids, for the vulnerabilities.

The development of a patch can be a time consuming process. As a result, a hacker may attempt to take advantage of a vulnerability before a patch is released. In other words, programmers have “zero days” to identify and resolve the issue, hence the term “zero-day vulnerability.”

What is a Zero-Day attack?

When a hacker manages to enter a system via a zero-day exploit, that becomes known as a zero-day attack. Zero-Day vulnerabilities exist in nearly all forms of software. They can take the form of missing data encryption, SQL injection, buffer overflows, missing authorizations, URL redirects and more.

As a result, pin-pointing a zero-day vulnerability is a challenge. In some respects, this is good news, as it means that hackers will have trouble finding them too. At the same time, it means that it’s difficult to effectively guard against these vulnerabilities.

How to guard against Zero-Day attacks:

Since zero-day attacks can occur in a variety of different forms, it’s difficult to guard against zero-day attacks. Software developers often refrain from publicly revealing vulnerabilities, as they don’t want to inadvertently alert hackers to possibilities.

Strategies that businesses can take to prevent attacks:

  • Stay alert and informed. Zero-Day exploits may not always be announced publicly, but the news does pick up the occasional vulnerability story. Pay attention to releases from your software vendors too. If a software vendor sends out a message concerning a vulnerability, you may have time to implement a fix before it’s too late.
  • Update your systems regularly. Programmers continually release patches to prevent exploitation of vulnerabilities. However, many organizations often avoid implementing patches, as the process can be time consuming. The best approach is to get automatic patch updates. This way, your team can focus on higher-level priorities, and your software will be as secure as possible.
  • Employ additional security measures. Are you using solutions that really protect against Zero-Day attacks? The security that you have in-place may not be enough to protect your organization from Zero-Day threats. Explore vendor offerings.