What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability? What can I do about it?

Zero-Day Vulnerability and other related terms explained!

The rise of computers and the Internet transformed the world beyond our imagination. Every day you interact with different types of technology. You probably heard about Bug-Bounty programs where bounty hunters find vulnerabilities and report them to get rewarded. Ever wonder why most companies offer a Bug-Bounty program?

Every software, hardware or firmware has vulnerabilities, to patch vulnerabilities companies offer a Bug-Bounty program. When a project is in the initial testing phase developer maybe not be aware of vulnerabilities that are unknown or have yet to surface. This is where a project is at risk of Zero-Day Attacks.

Let’s understand different terminology and glossary terms

What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?

Zero-Day Vulnerability refers to a vulnerability or security flaw that the vendor is unaware of. It does not have a security patch or update ready to deploy as the vendor does not even know about the vulnerability in the first place often resulting in exploitation by Zero-Day attacks.

What is a Zero-Day Exploit?

Zero-Day Exploit is a method or technique that hackers use to attack unidentified vulnerabilities.

What is a Zero-Day Attack?

When hackers successfully exploit a zero-day vulnerability and cause damage or steal data it is called Zero-Day Attack.

Who carries out Zero-Day attacks?

  • Cybercriminals: Hackers whose primary motivation is financial gain.
  • Hacktivists: Hackers who are motivated by certain ideologies or social causes.
  • Corporate Espionage: Hackers who aim to get critical information from other organizations.
  • Cyberwarfare: Nations trying to spy on or attack other nations’ cyberinfrastructure.

Who are Typical targets for Zero-day exploits?

The Typical targets are termed into two categories:

  1. Targeted zero-day attacks: 
    These types of attacks are carried out against potentially valuable targets – such as Government agencies, Large Corporations, and Individuals who have access to critical data and Political targets.
  2. Non-targeted zero-day attacks:
    These types of attacks are typically waged against users of vulnerable systems, such as an operating system or browser or the Internet of Things such as Hardware devices and firmware. A large number of people using a vulnerable system are vulnerable to Zero-Day attacks on computers which often results in hackers building massive botnets

How to Protect yourself against Zero-Day Attacks

Keep everything up to date:

It would help if you kept everything up to date as vendors include security patches against newly identified vulnerabilities. Zero-day Exploits are being found all the time and patches are rolled out all the time. Keeping your devices updated is a good practice. This ensures that you are more secure in the event of any such breach happening.

Use a Firewall:

A Firewall is a gated border for network security that restricts internet traffic within the private network. You can maximise protection by configuring the Firewall to allow only necessary transmissions. A Firewall can also stop suspicious incoming connections.

Education about Social Engineering:

Many Zero-Day Attacks involve human error which is called social engineering. Teaching employees good safety and security habits will help keep them safe from social engineering threats. Social Engineering might be someone sending you an innocuous-looking video link which might actually be a link to a malware or phishing attack in disguise. So always be careful about what you click on.

Use only needed software:

The more software you use, the more vulnerable you are to Zero-day attacks. You can reduce the risk by configuring your Firewall to allow only the applications you need.

Vulnerability Management:

Vulnerability management is the system of identifying managing and remediating cyber vulnerabilities A good plan will ensure that every Zero-Day Vulnerability is not just patched but the patch is delivered to users on time.

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Sukhdev has a passion for sharing insights and experiences on a wide range of topics from technology to personal development!

What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability? What can I do about it?

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