No one likes being blindsided. Being unexpectedly knocked off your heels by an unseen force can be devastating. Recovering from such an event may take a significant amount of time and energy. This is why it’s so important to know how to handle a zero-day vulnerability.
What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?
In cybersecurity, being blindsided is known as a zero-day attack. These are cyberattacks where threat actors exploit a system’s zero-day vulnerabilities to gain access to the network.
A zero-day vulnerability (or exploit) is any source of risk in a software or digital network unknown to the system administrators, developers or security teams. Essentially, a zero-day vulnerability is like having a home with an unlocked backdoor, except that you don’t know the door exists or that it’s completely unsecured.
Threat actors seek out zero-day vulnerabilities to execute malicious zero-day attacks.
What is a Zero-Day Attack?
A zero-day attack is a term used to describe cyber breaches and cyber-attacks where the threat actors’ point of entry is through a zero-day software vulnerability point.
These attacks can be very dangerous and cause significant damage, as system operators do not have prior warning of this type of exploit and are caught completely off-guard when they occur.
What is a Zero-Day Exploit?
A zero-day exploit is a tactic a threat actor employs when executing a zero-day attack.
Real-World Zero-Day Attacks
Organizations of all sizes and digital footprint complexities are falling victim to zero-day attacks. For instance, in the first eight months of 2022, Google encountered five incidents of exploited vulnerabilities after an update of its Chrome operating system early that year that led to at least one zero-day attack. Also, in 2022, Apple fixed a minimum of nine zero-day vulnerabilities affecting iPhones.
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Other famous zero-day attacks include the following:
- Twitter’s zero-day vulnerability in 2021 affected 5.4 million users.
- Zoom and Windows 7 users were targeted in 2020.
- Stuxnet, a famous zero-day attack targeting a nuclear power plant in 2009, inspired the book and movie: “Countdown to Zero-Days.”
What Causes Zero-Day Vulnerabilities to Develop?
Zero-day vulnerabilities can develop for numerous reasons. However, the most common reasons are from human errors, software updates, and poor system access management.
What Systems are Susceptible to Zero-Day Exploitation?
Any digital tool or system with an internet connection could be the subject of a zero-day attack. However, the most common targets include the following:
- Operating Systems. Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Linux, and other operating systems are common targets for zero-day exploiters.
- Web applications. Browsers, websites and social media platforms are frequently zero-day marks for cyber criminals and nation-state threat actors.
- Hardware devices. Routers, switches, and other hardware appliances are often the subject of a zero-day attack.
- IoT devices. Smart-enabled gear, such as smart watches, locks, glasses, and smart home systems, can be impacted if its software develops a zero-day security vulnerability.
What industries are most susceptible to a zero-day incident?
While all industries can be targeted by cybercriminals, some have more appeal to malicious threat actors than others. In general, any business with highly sensitive information a hacker can profit from is a target. Also, ease of access to a network plays a significant role in a company’s zero-day vulnerability risk level.
The following business types and industries should make zero-day threat protection measures a priority:
Banks, lenders, and other financial service providers are particularly vulnerable to zero-day threats as they often store large amounts of sensitive, personal information and customer data.
Cyberattacks against small businesses have increased enormously in recent years. It’s believed that most small businesses need more resources to operate, maintain and update robust threat intelligence protocols. The lack of monitoring and regular security patches make small business systems easy targets for hackers.
The healthcare industry is attractive to cybercriminals as patient records can be used for identity theft and other illicit activities. Additionally, many healthcare systems employ outdated technology that makes them vulnerable to exploitation.
Government Agencies and Utility Providers
Government agencies and utility providers are prime targets for zero-day extortionists looking to extract sensitive data, disrupt operations and even cause physical harm.
What Steps Can Businesses Take to Prevent Zero-Day Attacks?
Despite the challenges zero-day vulnerabilities present, organizations have effective steps and measures to choose from to decrease the likelihood of falling prey to a zero-day attack.
4 Zero-Day Attack Protection Strategies
- Employ a security patch management strategy. Security patch management will help to ensure systems are regularly updated, making them less vulnerable to zero-day threats.
- Web Application Firewall (WAF). A WAF provides an additional layer of security for web-based applications by monitoring and filtering out malicious traffic.
- Hunt for threats. Threat-hunting services performed using adversary emulation protocols mimic threat actors’ behaviors and detect vulnerabilities before ill-intentioned individuals can find them.
- Develop an incident response plan. A zero-day incident response plan will help your team respond quickly and effectively to a zero-day attack.
Can Businesses Recover from a Zero-Day Attack?
Yes! While a zero-day attack can be devastating, a business can make a full recovery. To help shorten the recovery period, consult a breach response expert’s proven mitigation strategies.
Tips on How to Remove a Zero-Day Virus
If you believe your system has been infected with a zero-day virus, it is important to take action quickly in order to minimize the damage.
Isolate Affected Equipment
First, isolate the affected device from your network and any other connected devices. This will help prevent the further spread of malicious software.
Run a System Scan
Next, scan your system for viruses using an up-to-date antivirus program. If the virus is detected by your antivirus software, it may provide instructions on how to remove it safely. However, since zero-day viruses often go undetected by traditional antivirus programs, you may need to consider other options, such as manual removal or specialized malware removal tools.
A Zero-Day Attack Doesn’t Have to End Your Business
Redpoint Cybersecurity specializes in incident response after a breach to get businesses up and running with the latest in cybersecurity protection
Edit Access Controls
Finally, change all passwords that were stored on the infected device as a precautionary measure.
Keep monitoring your system for suspicious activity and ensure that all software is kept up-to-date with the latest security patches.
Get Comprehensive Zero-Day Attack Protection from Redpoint
Zero-day attacks can be devastating for businesses of any size. Still, with the proper attack prevention and response measures in place, you can protect your company from these dangerous cyber threats. Redpoint is here to provide comprehensive protection against zero-day vulnerabilities, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
Taking action will ensure your business remains secure and protected against future zero-day vulnerabilities and other cybersecurity risks.