A Zero-day refers to a newly discovered software vulnerability. A Zero-Day vulnerability in core terms means a flaw. It is a vulnerability in software that is unknown to the developer or unaddressed by those who should be interested in mitigating the vulnerability or flaws. It can create a lot of problems before anyone realizes it.
What is a Zero-Day Exploit?
A Zero-Day exploit happens when a cyberattacker exploits the vulnerability of software or hardware on the same day a weakness is discovered. It’s exploited before a patch or fix is issued by the developer.
A zero-Day Exploit is used by hackers to cause damage or to steal information from a system affected by the vulnerability.
How Zero-Day attack works and why is it dangerous?
A company’s developer develops the software without knowing the vulnerability. Hacker exploits the vulnerability before the developer fixes it. Hacker writes and executes the exploit code(malware) while the vulnerability is still available. After releasing the malware, either the user recognizes it in the form of any breach or ransomware demand from the hacker or the developer finds it. Though most of the time, the user discovers it. After knowing the vulnerability developer releases the patch to fix the issue.
These vulnerabilities or exploits take months or years to identify. These threats are dangerous because the attacker knows their existence. These are often sold in the black market for huge money.
If a vulnerability is discovered by software vendors they keep it under wraps and release a patch to fix it. A market exists in which organizations pay researchers who discover vulnerabilities. Just like the white market, there are gray and black market markets in which zero-day vulnerabilities are traded. Now the race is whether the software company comes up with a patch or a hacker will exploit it before the vulnerability is patched.
Who are the threat actors of the Zero-Day exploit?
- Cybercriminals: Here the motive is financial gain.
- Hacktivists: These attacks are motivated by ideology, their motive is to highlight some cause.
- Corporate espionage: Their aim is to illicitly gain critical information from organizations.
Examples of Zero-Day Exploits
- Stuxnet: Stuxnet is a highly infectious self-replicating computer worm that affected Iranian nuclear plants and also has affected countries like Iran, India, and Indonesia. The threat took control of computers. It carries out unexpected commands and altered the speed of centrifuges in the plants and shut them down.
- 2010 is known as the “The Year of Zero-Day Vulnerabilities for Browsers”. Adobe products, Explorer, Java, Mozilla Firefox, Windows XP, and many others were affected by zero-day exploits.
- In October 2019, a classic Watering-Hole Attack on a North Korea-related news site that exploited a chain of Google Chrome and Microsoft Windows zero-days.
- Sony Zero-day attack: In 2014 hackers crippled Sony’s network and released sensitive data on file-sharing sites. This includes the business plans, personal email addresses of senior Sony executives, and details of new movies.
- RSA: Hackers used the unpatched vulnerability in Adobe flash player to gain access. Through command and control hackers got access of sensitive information related to the company’s secure 2-factor authentication products, used around the world for access to sensitive data and devices.
- Operation Aurora: Hackers targeted the intellectual property of several major enterprises, including Google, Adobe Systems, Akamai Technologies, Juniper Networks, Rackspace, Yahoo, Symantec Northrop Grumman, Morgan Stanley, Dow Chemical, Blackberry, and dozen other companies. Using a zero-day vulnerability found in several versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software.
- Equifax Data Breach: Due to the fault in the code hackers got through the system and acquired the data.
How can you defend a Zero-day Exploit?
Zero-day attacks are difficult to defend because they are difficult to detect. There are different ways to reduce their level of risk exposure.
- Virtual Area networks: Segregate some areas of the network to isolate sensitive data flowing between the servers.
- IP Sec: IP Security protocol to apply encryption and authentication to prevent network traffic.
- IDS/ IPS: this will help in alerting any suspicious behavior.
- Network Access Control(NAC): Helps in preventing the infected machine to communicate with critical parts of the enterprise.
- Wireless Access point: Lockdown access points and use Wi-Fi-protected Access two to protect against wireless-based attacks.
- Patching: Keep all the systems patched and up to date. Software vendors work quickly to provide a solution when a zero-day vulnerability is announced.
- Vulnerability scanning: regular vulnerability scanning helps in finding any vulnerability
- Software updates: this allows you to add new features, remove outdated features, updated drivers, bug fixes, etc.
- Incident Response Plan: formulating a plan to focus on Zero-day attacks and backup can increase the chances of detecting, mitigating, and reducing the damage caused by Zero-day attacks.
- Human Error: Avoid human error by training users to identify phishing attacks and other security risks
A zero-day attack can cause significant damage. Having information security controls in place is not sufficient whether you are managing it on your own or through a service provider but managing, monitoring, and mitigating the risk on time is more important.
How BitSys Technologies can help you?
BitSys Technologies Managed IT services protect against threats including Zero-day attacks, Advanced Protection Threats (APT), advanced malware, and trojans that remove traditional-based security measures through 24*7 Security Operations Center (SOC) and SIEM Solutions. BitSys Technologies has a coordinated defense of prevention technology and a thorough response plan is needed to effectively detect and mitigate zero-day attacks.
The only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build is to be vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’d like to know more about how your business can benefit from managed services, just give us a call, we are here to help.
A Zero-Day exploit is a cyber attack that occurs on the same day a weakness is discovered in software. At that point, it’s exploited before a fix.