How to avoid zero-day vulnerability?

and implement zero-day attack prevention

Paloma Velasco · 4 min read

In recent years, especially coinciding with the pandemic caused by Covid-19, not only has our work habits changed utterly, starting with teleworking, which has become the new work model. Not only has the way we use the Internet changed, but the amount of data stored in the cloud has also increased, and with it, the risk of this data being hacked and putting the interests of many people and entities at risk. So years ago, they began to ask what does cybersecurity do? And we saw that cybersecurity would be the key to stopping the attacks and the threat they pose. This has caused companies to reinforce their cybersecurity measures to avoid being attacked by cybercriminals. Today we want to talk to you about a problem that is becoming more and more frequent and that we presented to you in the last post. 

These are zero-day vulnerabilities, security holes in software that are unknown until the time of the attack. It is practically the most valuable thing that a hacker can possess since they are attacks against an application or system that aims to execute malicious code thanks to the unknown vulnerabilities and the manufacturer of the product.

Cybercriminals increasingly exploit software vulnerabilities, which can infect an organization and carry out actions ranging from stealing sensitive information to remotely "taking over" control of a computer.

Thus, exploits targeting such vulnerabilities are called zero-day or zero-day attacks. The more massive the attack and the fewer days have elapsed since the zero-day attack, the more likely it is that no solution has been developed and the more extensive the damage can be.

As we have mentioned before, during the last few years and especially in the post-pandemic years, there has been an exponential increase of attackers in terms of cybersecurity. Still, Day 0 exploits have experienced alarming growth.

Although many known vulnerabilities are being closed, there is also a growing demand in the illegal market for new criminal tools.

So, looking at these trends, improvements in detection, and a growing culture of disclosure will likely be the only solution to combat the 0-day vulnerabilities detected in 2021.

Cybersecurity technologists suspect that, in general, the industry currently only detects a small percentage of the 0-days that are used. So increasing the detection of these 0-day exploits is a good thing: it allows us to fix vulnerabilities and protect users.

For now, the solution for software developers is to have a rapid response in patching these vulnerabilities. As users, we can only take preventive measures and stay updated.

Hackers are fast, and their ways of getting where they want to go are becoming more sophisticated and "cleaner ."One factor contributing to the increased number of zero-day attacks on record is the rapid global proliferation of hacking tools. Many powerful groups invest money in zero-day attacks to use them and reap the rewards. This makes the threat even more remarkable because, with more resources, processes are improved, and targets are hit sooner.

The biggest challenge with these attacks is that they are rarely discovered immediately. However, it is possible to minimize them with several recommendations that corporate IT managers should consider when planning their cybersecurity.

This year, the most significant number of such attacks in history has been discovered, according to several databases, researchers, and cybersecurity firms who spoke to MIT Technology Review. According to databases such as the Zero-Day Attack Tracking Project at least 66 zero-day exploits have been found in use this year. The figure is nearly double the total detected in 2021 and significantly more than any other year on record.

In recent years, many zero-day vulnerabilities have been used to commit massive data breaches and malware attacks. Some zero-day attack examples are; EternalBlue, Wannacry, BlueKeep, and Petya.

EternalBlue, for example, is one of the most known exploits of the last years. It attacks a patched flaw in the Windows Server message blocking protocol.

Petya, another type of exploit, attacks a vulnerability in Microsoft's Server Message Block protocol implementation. This exploit sends a message to the user to perform a system reboot, after which the system is inaccessible. This makes the operating system unable to locate files, and there is no way to decrypt the files.

The most dangerous thing about these exploits is that it is very likely that you will not realize that an exploit has occurred once the malware has been introduced, but if you are attentive, you will be able to notice some effects. Here are some of the common signs of a malware infection:

slow performance,

frequent crashes or hangs,

unexplained configuration changes,

countless pop-ups or advertisements in inappropriate places,

Loss of storage space.

If any of these signs occur on your device, you should be alert and immediately perform a virus scan with a reputable antivirus tool.

Your company must implement zero-day attack prevention

The good news is that you can take steps to implement zero-day attack prevention to avoid the zero-day vulnerability that will protect your company against vulnerabilities. By practicing intelligent IT security habits, you can go a long way toward protecting yourself from exploit attacks. Reducing your risk of being attacked is more manageable by following these practices.

  1. Update your software regularly. In cybersecurity, one of the best ways to protect against vulnerabilities is to use only current software. If your device allows automatic software updates, as most do, enable that process or use an automated software updater. If you need to install an update manually, do so as soon as you receive a notification.
  2. While updated software will protect you against known exploit attacks, there's not much you can do when a hacker discovers a zero-day vulnerability. But with a fresh backup of all your most important files, you'll be protected in case a cybercriminal uses an exploit to attack your computer with ransomware or other file-damaging malware.
  3. Use password managers that make it difficult for hackers to boycott your passwords and the security of files where sensitive data is stored.
  4. Get compliance certifications such as SOC2, HIPAA, etc. Working with customers who also have them will make the work environment more secure, especially in a scenario where you work remotely and the traffic of sensitive information in the cloud is very large.
  5. Use software from trusted vendors. This advice applies to standalone applications as well as browser extensions and add-ons. Having all your software and SaaS centralized through a user provisioning tool such as MyLenio will give your company more excellent coverage and security because MyLenio centralized account and permission management will reduce drastically the use of admin accounts outside the platform and, because of this, the risk of many users sharing admin accounts. Also, implementing PoLP, avoids many vulnerabilities caused by mismanagement of access in your organization. Trusted software developers ensure that your software is secure. Reliable software developers make sure that their products are as exploit-proof as possible. And if a zero-day exploit arises, they will respond as quickly as possible with a security patch.

The end of zero-day attacks is not near, in fact, every day, all companies and data shared and stored in the cloud or other places within the network are more exposed. But it is up to us to be more secure, train our teams, and be alert to minimize and prevent these attacks from becoming commonplace.

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