January 23, 2019
A zero day attack is an attack that targets publicly known but still unpatched vulnerabilities.
Software vulnerabilities can be discovered by hackers, by the software vendors themselves, by security companies or researchers, or by users. If these vulnerabilities are discovered by hackers, an exploit will be kept secret for as long as possible and will then get circulated only via the ranks of hackers, until security or software companies become aware of it or of the attacks targeting it. Such attacks are defined by some as ‘less than zero day ‘ attacks.
At its very core, a zero day vulnerability is a flaw. It is an unknown exploit that exposes a vulnerability in hardware or software and can give rise to complicated problems much before anyone realizes that something is wrong. At the very outset, a zero day exploit does not leave any opportunity for detection. Let’s break down the stages of the window of vulnerability:
Zero day exploits are extremely dangerous because manufacturers have not had the chance to patch them. For instance, imagine a new version of Microsoft Office has just been released. You go ahead and purchase it for your team to use in order to update and refine the IT operations at your company. However, Microsoft fails to realize that there was an exploitable loophole in Microsoft Word prior to releasing it to the public. This loophole first gets spotted by a hacker, who then goes ahead and writes a malware script that effortlessly infiltrates any device that downloads the new version of Microsoft Word.
Microsoft will now have to develop a security patch capable of addressing the zero day exploit and ensuring that all users download it. That could take months, and in the meantime, hackers can actually bring about a catastrophic mess.
Zero day refers to a flaw in hardware, software, or firmware that is unknown to the parties or party responsible for patching or fixing the flaw. The term zero day can actually refer to the vulnerability itself, or an attack that has zero days between the time when the vulnerability gets discovered and the very first attack. After a zero day vulnerability becomes public, it gets to be referred to as n-day or one-day vulnerability.
Zero day vulnerabilities present grave security risks, which can leave you vulnerable to zero day attacks, thus resulting in potential damage to your personal data or computer.
To keep your computer and data safe, it is always wise to adopt proactive and reactive security measures:
With regular software updates, you will be able to install necessary revisions to the operating system. These could include removing outdated features, adding new features, delivering bug fixes, updating drivers, and fixing all the discovered security holes.
To stay protected from zero day threats, follow the checklist given below:
Install a proactive and effective security software which provides effective and reactive features and methods that help block both unknown and known threats.