The threat of cyber-attacks has become increasingly concerning for businesses of all kinds. There has been an exponential increase in cyber-attacks in recent years. Any business can be victimized by hackers who steal data, money, and intellectual property. The average cost of a data breach for a small business is between 120,000 and $1.24 million.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to be aware of such attacks and how to protect your business. As a result of the information provided in this blog, business owners will be better prepared if they come across any zero-day threats.
What is Zero Day?
Zero-day (also referred to as 0-day) attacks target software vulnerabilities unknown to the software vendor or antivirus vendor. The vulnerability can be exploited by hackers to affect programs, data, additional computers, or a network until it is mitigated. Zero-day exploits, or zero-day attack, take advantage of a zero-day vulnerability.
It is a term used to describe recently discovered security weaknesses that hackers use to attack systems. It is called zero-day because the developer has no time to fix the flaw that led to the hacking. Often, the systems are attacked before a developer can fix them.
Some Important Terms You Should Know About
It is common for people to use terms related to zero-day interchangeably. Here is a list of some commonly used terms to clarify the distinction:
- Zero Day Attack: An exploit used by hackers to harm or steal data from a system that is vulnerable to vulnerability.
- Zero Day Vulnerability: The hacker has discovered the software vulnerability before the vendor has.
- Zero Day Exploit: Hackers use this method to attack systems.
Who Implements Zero Day Attack?
Different individuals can carry out a zero-day attack depending on the action to be taken. There are several types of these:
- Cyber Warfare Hackers: Spying on or attacking the cyberspace of another country by political leaders or countries.
- For-profit Attackers: Vulnerabilities in a company’s cyber infrastructure can be found by such individuals and sold to other companies. However, they do not attack or harm anyone, they just sell data.
- Hacktivists: It is known as hacktivists when someone hacks systems to draw attention to a social or political issue.
- Cybercriminals: Financial gain is the main reason they hack.
- Corporate Hackers: To learn more about a competitor, a company can hack its systems.
Who Are The Victims Of Zero Day Exploit?
Zero-day attacks can affect not only large corporations but also smaller businesses. In this way, a wide range of organizations can be affected, including:
- A government agency, such as a defense organization or a confidential organization.
- An organization that handles personal information, such as Social Security numbers.
- Companies that develop hardware and software.
- Cyber infrastructures that are underdeveloped.
As long as a company is profitable, it will be targeted. The number of cyber attacks targeting small businesses is 43%. Furthermore, hackers aim to make as much money as possible with the least amount of risk, so any business can be a target.
Nearly every hacker targets:
- IoT Devices
- Web browsers
- Software applications
- Hardware and firmware
- Office applications
- Open source components
Organizations of any size can be compromised by zero-day attacks. An attack that targets a potentially valuable target is called a targeted zero-day attack. It can be a government agency, a large organization, or even a celebrity. An untargeted zero-day attack targets vulnerable systems such as browsers or operating systems.
What are the Signs Of A Zero-Day Attack?
A zero-day attack certainly has specific signs and symptoms. The importance of recognizing and addressing these issues early on cannot be overstated. Each zero-day, however, is unique. However, you can detect it in a few ways:
1. Vulnerability Scanning
It involves scanning the system for zero-day vulnerabilities. As soon as the issue is found, it should be resolved immediately. A separate activity or a regular part of the development process can be involved. Cyber security firms may also be hired to handle this process.
2. Machine Learning
To establish a base level of safety for systems, machine learning algorithms are frequently adopted. A system’s safety measures are based on past and current interactions. As the algorithm receives more data, it becomes more reliable.
3. Retro Hunting
Retro hunting refers to searching for reports of a major cyberattack and determining whether your company was affected. Retro hunting is effective when you follow these steps:
- Ask your developers if they can resist a similar attack without being damaged.
- Stay informed about similar attacks by checking the news daily.
- Check your inbox regularly for security flaw notifications from your software vendors.
4. Check Your Website’s Performance
These signs can be found on your website:
- It doesn’t take long for a website’s performance to the tank.
- There has been a change in the appearance of your website.
- Multiple browser warnings on the website.
- Visitors are not being redirected as expected by the website
- You just can’t log in.
5. Analyze and gather user reports
Your system users frequently interact with your system, so they may be able to spot problems before you do. To protect an organization from a zero-day attack, it is recommended to track user reports for suspicious emails, password attempts, and strange pop-ups.
6. Reduced Network Speed
As a result of the attack, the victim’s internet connection may suffer. A drastic drop in network speed is an indication that an attack has occurred. Slow network speed is not always an indication of an attack, but it should be taken into consideration.
7. Analyze Software’s Performance
Software performance can be adversely affected, functions can be altered, and even certain features can be taken offline by zero-day attacks. As a result, it becomes natural for any business to identify cyber attacks.
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How Do Zero Day Attacks Work?
Although each zero-day is unique, here are some of the standard steps:
- A developer creates a system with a fault. Attackers often exploit vulnerabilities in software.
- The hacker usually exploits the vulnerability before the developer does. An exploit code is devised by hackers to attack a system.
- Software users can be damaged in multiple ways by the exploit code.
Once hackers gain access to a network, they penetrate systems. It is common for them to adopt these strategies, even though there is no standard method:
- A common technique is fuzzing. Input boxes or text boxes where individuals enter information are injected with random data using the software. A hacker then looks for failed executions, memory leaks, and crashes.
- Hackers gain access to systems through social engineering. There are multiple types of social engineering. You could be asked for a password by someone from your IT department.
- By opening a corrupt file or link, hackers convince you to give them confidential information. Phishing is a type of social engineering. Emails or any other form of connection can be used to target a business. Hackers can steal confidential data and gain access to information by clicking on such links.
Eventually, developers become aware of the attack and write a patch to fix it. However, security weaknesses are not discovered right away. It may take a few days, weeks, or even months for the process to complete.
Moreover, hackers can use this attack to steal data and sell it online, such as on the dark web. These data are sold on black and gray markets by multiple cyber security companies. The trade of data could be conducted for a large sum of money.
The damage the attack causes can vary, once it’s discovered and patched, so it’s no longer a zero-day attack.
A Zero Day Calamity: How Can You Prepare?
As there is no way to fix a zero-day attack, waiting for the developers is extremely stressful. It is most effective to prepare before attacking. Here are some steps you can take to prevent a zero-day attack:
1. Update Software Frequently
It is easier for hackers to penetrate outdated code. As a result, updating software and applications becomes essential for an organization. The following reasons make new updates necessary:
- Fix minor bugs that are prone to fuzzing.
- By removing old or unused code sections, the system becomes more robust.
- Networks are frequently patched to improve their robustness and security.
2. Least Access Rule
The data, hardware, and software that professionals work with within an organization should be restricted. They should only have access to the applications they use regularly. By doing so, hackers have few options for gaining access to systems.
3. Implement Security Software
The purpose of security software is to protect systems from viruses, malware, and other attacks. A protection solution blocks unauthorized users from a system, encrypts data, and protects against a variety of threats. Websites also require specialized software. Plugins such as File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can protect WordPress websites.
4. Access Secure Web Hosting
There are 30,000 hacks per day on websites worldwide. It is possible to protect them by getting secure web hosting. Benefits of secure web hosting include:
- Software vulnerabilities, hacking, and viruses are protected against
- Data, money, and revenue are protected from loss.
- Regular updates and status on systems.
- Better search engine rankings require a secure website.
5. Utilize Firewall
A firewall protects your system from outside interference or attacks. In addition to shielding systems from hacker attacks, firewalls provide an additional layer of security. The market offers a wide variety of firewall types, from packet filtering to web applications to stateful firewalls.
6. Implement Security Training For Employees
By providing security training to your employees, you can better equip them to handle security threats and assist them in identifying social engineering techniques. When employees are trained for such situations, they will feel less anxious and will be able to take practical steps to resolve the issue.
7. DevOps Development
In DevOps, programs are frequently updated through continuous development. Regular updates make systems more robust and secure. It includes continuous feedback, monitoring, integration, and deployment as part of the DevOps development cycle.
8. Avail VPNs
A VPN protects browsing data, connection data, and IP addresses through virtual servers. The fewer information hackers have available to them, the more difficult it is for them to breach your system. As a result, VPN protects the system from zero-day attacks and other similar attacks.
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Here are Some Examples Of Zero-Day Attack
There is a cyber attack every 39 seconds. These are some of the notable cyber attacks that have occurred in recent years:
1. 2021 Google Chrome
A zero-day vulnerability discovered by a hacker was also fixed by Google in April 2021. A crafted HTML page could be used to run code in a sandbox.
2. 2019 Microsoft Windows, Eastern Europe
Microsoft Windows escalation privileges were targeted at specific government institutions in Eastern Europe. A non-protected system could run arbitrary code and install applications. The required code was subsequently implemented through a patch.
3. Microsoft Word Attack
There is a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft Word that has been identified by individuals and organizations. A security researcher and consultant, Ryan Hanson, identified this vulnerability in 2016, which allowed an attacker to install malware on a system once a Word document has been downloaded.
Before Microsoft developers patched this vulnerability in 2017, hackers exploited it and stole millions from bank accounts.
4. Zoom Hack
An unknown individual discovered a zero-day vulnerability in Zoom in 2020, according to Opatch, a cyber security company. Hackers were able to run code remotely in Zoom by convincing users to click on a link or open malware. This attack, however, was only possible on Windows 7 and earlier versions. A patch was built by Zoom developers within a day after Opatch delivered this issue to Zoom.
5. Apple IOS
The security of Apple systems is highly praised. However, in 2020, iOS faced two zero-day vulnerabilities, including one that allowed attackers to remotely compromise iPhones.
6. 2010 Stuxnet
The Stuxnet computer worm targeted multiple Iranian facilities. USB sticks containing malware were used to infect Windows computers. As a result, this malware attacked machines by targeting their PLCs or Programmable Logic Controllers. Automating machine processes is easy with PLCs. As a result, Stuxnet was able to penetrate Iranian security systems and target facilities.
Taking a company by surprise with a zero-day attack can be painful and a source of anxiety for any company. Nevertheless, if precautions are taken when needed, zero-day attacks can be prevented. Zero-day attacks can affect businesses of all sizes, so knowing the signs is essential.
Q. What Are Zero-Day Attacks In Simple Terms?
Businesses of all sizes are subjected to zero-day cyber attacks that give them no time to prepare. A hacker has exposed a vulnerability in the system, and Web developers have little time to fix it. A patch can take some time depending on the complexity of the situation.
Q. Are There Any Expertise Requirements For Preventing Zero-Day Attacks?
An organization can recover from a zero-day attack with the professional assistance in networking, cyber security, web development, and operational management.
Q. When a zero-day attack occurs, what should you do?
The following are some of the most common recovery methods:
- Access Removal: Anyone who has the chance of exploiting it should be blocked. The website should be shut down if necessary until a patch is released.
- Content Threat Removal(CTR): In this technology, data is intercepted as it travels to its destination. The direct delivery of any data is blocked because it is considered hostile. Data delivers only business information. As a result, dangerous elements of the data are discarded.
- Recovery Plan: Every organization should have a crisis management strategy in place. Data recovery should include cloud-based storage and on-site components.
Q. Are Zero-Day Attacks a Threat To My Business?
You will indeed be attacked, so don’t think that you want. To maximize returns, hackers try to minimize risk. These attacks can also affect small businesses. Your business should be protected from such attacks from the very beginning.
Q. What is the recovery time for a business following a zero-day attack?
It depends on how complex the situation is. There are some vulnerabilities in every piece of software. Protecting your systems from such attacks is the best option. When you are attacked, it is up to your team of developers to release a patch as quickly as possible. Patches for vulnerabilities can take days, weeks, or even months.