What is a Zero-Day Attack?

Cybercriminals are getting more and more exceptional in releasing and spreading their malware to a greater extent in today's world. They always tend to look for a lead to create havoc, and one such weak link is the security vulnerabilities in the software. Though software programs developed by the big organizations go through vigorous testing before coming out for the end-users, they are still not perfect.

Suppose a software is launched and a group of cybercriminals gets their hands on the vulnerability before the developer or the tester. In that case, the attackers can use that vulnerability to their advantage and conduct various malicious activities. Such vulnerabilities are known as Zero-Day Vulnerabilities.

In this post, we would know what the Zero-Day Vulnerability and Zero-Day Attacks are and how to stay safe from them.

What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability

Zero-Day vulnerabilities are the security loopholes in computer software that are undiscovered by software developers and testers until it is reported by the end-users or the cyber attackers exploit it for carrying out illicit activities.

If any end-user reports the vulnerability to the software development company, they create an update patch to fix that bug and release it as soon as possible.

On the other hand, if the zero-day vulnerability is detected by cybercriminals, they would use it to their advantage for injecting the malicious codes in that software and carry out Zero-Day Attacks.

What is a Zero-Day Attack

A zero-day attack is a malicious offense carried out by cyber attackers by taking benefit of a zero-day vulnerability. Through a zero-day attack, the intruders can inject malicious codes into a legit application and use it for various purposes like stealing sensitive data for identity theft, getting remote control of the system, or releasing dangerous malware programs like Trojans or Ransomware.

An individual or organization using the infected software can be ruined while the image of the company which developed the vulnerable software would be diminished.

How is a Zero-Day attack carried out

A zero-day attack is not all of a sudden. It happens in the following steps −

  • The software developers unknowingly introduce the loophole in the application.

  • It remains unnoticed by the testers of the organization.

  • Cybercriminals who are always on their toes for such an opportunity detect the vulnerability before any white-hat hacker or anybody else gets to it.

  • Once the intruders find the loophole, they modify the code of the application and use it to their advantage.

  • When the software company came to know about it, they immediately start working on developing the patch to fix the issue.

  • On the other hand, the security solutions company update their antivirus or antimalware database with this new vulnerability.

  • A new updated patch is released by the software development company to fix the issue and control the damage.

How to stay safe from a Zero-Day attack

Since the zero-day vulnerability is not detected until the zero-day attack is conducted, the security solutions' databases are not updated with its detection signature. Therefore, it becomes challenging to keep it away. Here are some preventive tips to safeguard the system from zero-day attacks −

  • Get your software from trustworthy sources. Generally, zero-day vulnerabilities are found on poorly designed software and a company that does not have skilled developers and testers. It is strictly advised to always get your software, whether free or paid, from the reputed sources that have considerable experience in software development and provides frequent updates.

  • Keep your system and applications updated with the latest version. An update would generally fix the security loopholes in the applications or the operating system, thus avoiding any zero-day attack.

  • Equip your system with a Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV). If your organization is pretty vulnerable to zero-day attacks, it is advised to invest in a robust NGAV. Since most traditional security solutions are dependent on signature detection to catch the malware, they become ineffective against zero-day attacks. While the latest NGAVs are based on advanced technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence; so they can save your system even from the zero-day attacks.