Information and communications technologies have become increasingly vital to the way business functions—driving both innovation and specialization. But this deeply interconnected relationship is not without risk. Vulnerabilities in cybersecurity have allowed malicious zero-day attacks to disable systems, crash websites, and compromise sensitive data, resulting in millions (sometimes billions) of dollars in damage. With stakes that high, it’s essential to protect yourself and your business.
What Is a Zero-Day Attack?
A zero-day attack is a particularly devastating type of cyberattack that:
- Exploits a weakness in your network security
- Is deployed at a time known only to the attacker
- Defies detection by defenders
Zero-day exploits usually target vulnerabilities in software, spotting weaknesses that allow the attacker to infect your system with malicious code. Targets are often unprotected business networks, large corporations, government agencies, or individuals with access to sensitive data.
Some examples of notable zero-day attacks include:
- Dridex: This trojan horse was designed to attach vulnerable and unpatched versions of Microsoft’s software.
- Wannacry: This ransomware worm exploited a weakness in Microsoft’s EternalBlue software, affecting hundreds of thousands of machines worldwide.
- Stuxnet: This malicious computer worm targeted Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz.
- Operation Aurora: Hackers believed to be from China gained criminal access to corporate data from companies including Google and Adobe.
What Do Zero-Day Attacks Target?
Memory corruption issues account for about 75% of zero-day attacks, followed by logic or design flow problems (14%), information leaks (10%), and user-after-free vulnerabilities (6%)
How Common Are Zero-Day Attacks?
A total of 108 zero-day attacks occurred during the 5-year period between July 2014 and June 2019, or approximately 20 attacks annually. Of course, these figures represent only attacks that were detected and reported—the actual figure remains unknown. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that, of these 108 zero-day attacks, a malicious actor was identified in only 44 cases, illustrating the difficulty in actually catching the cybercriminals responsible.
Protecting Yourself from a Zero-Day Attack
Like a disease, zero-day cyber attacks are less expensive to prevent than to cure, but detecting a zero-day attack is particularly difficult, especially if you (and your cybersecurity software) aren’t sure what trouble signs to look for. Most zero-day cyber attacks target vulnerabilities in signature-based systems and are sophisticated enough to evade traditional means of detection.
Fortunately, there are some defensive tactics you can employ…
- Adopt a comprehensive approach to your network’s security — that means actively ferreting out weaknesses, blind spots, or any vulnerabilities that could offer a zero-day attacker access to your system.
- Explore security solutions that do not simply whitelist trusted sources while placing a network-wide block on resources your workers may need.
- Select a cybersecurity system that can detect chains of suspicious code and respond to these threats in real time.
- Train a cyberattack response team to handle cybersecurity threats.
- Drill your team in cybersecurity protocols regularly — preparing for a cyberattack now can save you money and headaches later.
- Conduct a Network Security Audit – Knowing that sometimes the best offense is a good defense, a network security audit is a great way to identify vulnerabilities and possible points of attack.
And for your personal computing…
- Never install unnecessary software.
- Keep your software updated and current.
- Don’t ignore those patches—if a software company is informed of a security problem with any of their products, they’ll likely respond by issuing a software patch to close the loophole. But these patches only protect you if you download them!
At Waterdog Computer Works, we understand how devastating a zero-day attack can be to your business. That’s why we offer the latest tools and technologies available to keep your network secure. Want to learn more about boosting cybersecurity for your business or personal computing needs? Contact us today!
Located in Wayne, Pa, Waterdog Computer Works is a complete IT solutions and cybersecurity provider serving businesses throughout Main Line Philadelphia. Focused and responsive, Waterdog Computer Works offers a two-hour emergency response time guarantee, no-risk contracts and a team of technicians with over 75 years of combined experience. Call us at 484.580.8568 to speak to a member of our team.