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Zero-day attacks: a common cyber attack
There are several methods hackers use to illegally access systems and data. They perform brute force attacks, denial of service and more, among others. However, the most severe form of the different variants are zero-day attacks. Zero-day threats are opportunistic in their attacks. Vulnerabilities in systems and software that have been overlooked or simply forgotten about are vulnerabilities. Such vulnerabilities are often fixed too late, which means some systems are infiltrated with malware before they are discovered. As recently as 2021, WatchGuard, a cybersecurity technology company, reported that around 74% of threats were zero-day malware. Signature-based antivirus solutions are said to have failed to detect the malware, according to analyses. Strictly speaking, a distinction must be made between zero-day vulnerabilities, zero-day exploits, and zero-day attacks. What is behind what term and much more information awaits you in this blog post.
What is day zero?
«Day zero‘ is a broad term used to describe recently discovered vulnerabilities that hackers can use to attack systems. The term “zero day,” which roughly translates to “zero day,” refers to the fact that the vendor or developer just learned of the bug, meaning they have “zero days” to fix it. A zero-day attack is then used when hackers exploit the bug before the developer removes the vulnerability. The term zero-day is often supplemented with a vulnerability, exploit, or attack that has its own meaning. Knowing and understanding the differences is beneficial.
A zero-day vulnerability is a security hole in software that is discovered by attackers before the developer discovers it. Due to ignorance, there is not yet a patch that eliminates the vulnerability. This increases the probability of an attack. Zero-day exploit describes the method used by hackers to attack through a vulnerability. Finally, zero-day attack is the use of a zero-day exploit to exploit a zero-day vulnerability to damage the system or steal data.
How do hackers find zero-day vulnerabilities?
Hackers use various tools and techniques to detect security breaches in software or systems. Zero-day vulnerabilities are typically found through source code audits, reverse engineering, and fuzzing.
The practice of reverse engineering applied to computer hardware and software dates back to older industries. Software reverse engineering focuses on the machine code of a program: the string of 0’s and 1’s that are sent to the logical processor. Programming language instructions are used to convert machine code to original source code. This source code is examined by hackers for vulnerabilities.
Fuzz testing or fuzzing is a black box software testing technique that basically consists of finding implementation errors by injecting defective/semi-defective data in an automated way. A fuzzer is a program that automatically inserts semirandom data into a program and detects errors. With the knowledge gained, hackers can develop zero-day exploits.
What damage can zero-day vulnerabilities cause?
Hackers often aim to steal valuable data and information from a company or a user. Cybercriminals use sensitive data for personal gain, sell it on the dark web, or use it to blackmail the victim. Data theft can have serious consequences for businesses. In addition to loss of customer confidence, financial damage in the multi-digit range is often recorded.
When hackers take over business emails and accounts, hackers can gain access to administrator rights, networks, servers, programs, and important information. The result is often identity theft, and phishing emails can be sent to contacts or customers.
Zero-day attacks are capable of crippling an organization’s entire business. Sales losses are conceivable and, depending on the financial situation, can even lead to ruin.
If a company is shown to have been negligent and did not pay sufficient attention to the use of security technology, including security software, costly lawsuits can result in the loss of customer data.
How to protect against zero-day attacks?
Since zero-day attacks target software or system vulnerabilities, it is very important to use available updates and install them immediately; only closed vulnerabilities are good vulnerabilities. Software solutions like AVG TuneUp 2022 includes a software updater that prevents bugs, removes security issues, and works fully automatically.
Also, it makes more sense to use efficient security software that has smart algorithms, efficient analysis features, and extensive databases to detect and defend against zero-day attacks. Among other things Bitdefender Total Security 2022 and the Avast Ultimate Suite 2022 offer such features