Zero-day attacks, also sometimes referred to as 0-day attacks, is a term used to elucidate the threats pertaining to undisclosed security vulnerabilities in computer software or application. This directs to either the patch has not been released, or to issues that developers didn’t have time to address before launch.
Since zero-day vulnerabilities can lead to significant launch issues, it’s important to work on Zero-day protection.
1. What are Zero-Day attacks, and How Do Zero-day Attacks work?
We may have multifarious layers of defense in the form of antivirus programs or anti-malware software. But frequently, an attack might eventuate on these devices that disguise themselves from such antivirus programs that, as on-time used, were unknown to the vendor and public at large.
Once the software is developed, there are occasions when the developer is unable to track down the vulnerability In specific cases, the hacker gets wind of opportunities to exploit the vendors and software owners, also known as software exploits.
And this can escort to cyber crimes clutching in the surroundings and victimizing the software users. Although extensive outer protection systems are available, this vulnerability or deformity paved its way from the inside of the software, not giving the window to vulnerability scanning in the process.
The 2022 Cyber Security Report by Checkpoint indicates that cyberattacks against corporate groups proliferated by 50% in 2021 as compared to 2020.
Numerous zero-day attacks target education and research organizations today, and statistics say there have been more zero-day attacks since the beginning of 2022.
There is a vulnerability in the software or web application, and hackers lay hold of it before software designers, and developers don’t have much time to fix the patch. This malware zero-day threat often takes numerous days or months to be discovered and fixed.
2. What are Zero-day exploits and Cyber Warfare?
Zero-Day exploits refer to manipulating software flaws by malafide users to establish ascendancy over the system. Zero-Day vulnerability in computer systems can be extremely deleterious to the system as its directly associated with security threat issues and personal information transactions; their ramification is cyber warfare.
It can be performed through various tools like computer worms, emails, IP spooning, viruses, ransomware, phishing, and other hacking tactics and technologies.
Cyber warfare, on the other hand, is an illegal activity of one nation that is carried out to damage other nations’ information networks.
According to the Mandiant Threat Intelligence report, the zero-day attacks have escalated since 2021 and had grown more than 100% compared to 2019. And the primary source of Zero-Day exploiters includes State-sponsored groups. This study reviews that there had been a 40% rise in zero-day attacks in 2021 – compared to the last decade and the most common tools used are Espionage and Sabotage.
For example, a Computer worm developed by the United States and Israel called Stuxnet. It was specially designed to monitor and detect industrial facilities across the globe without the knowledge of users. And later the United States with the help of this technology sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program.
3. Recent incidents related to Zero-day attack vulnerabilities
The famous zero-day attacks were added to the zero-day vulnerability list to understand the pattern and purpose of these attacks. The incident of the Zero-Day attack case study are mentioned below:-
- The most famous Zero-Day attack was linked to the Sony Pictures hack of 2014 when dollars of damage took place due to using an unrecognized vulnerability to install malware, that deleted and caused harm to new films and threatened to defame the company’s reputation. There were reports of allegations of this attack sponsored by North Korean agents as a reaction to some interviews related to its leader. This case became the Zero-day attack example for many studies.
- In April 2017, a Zero-Day attack malfunctioned the system of Microsoft Word. The malware used was Dridex banker Trojan to harm and damage the vulnerability of the software.
- These types of incidents pose a threat to cyber security in 2021. In December 2021, Log4j vulnerability caused damage and distorted systems in various famous platforms including Amazon.
- In 2022, a bug was discovered as CVE-2022-37969. The attacker obtained high security-level access to the log devices.
4. Challenges against Zero-Day attacks
Certain challenges arise in the way of defeating such dangerous attacks and several forces that lead to the proliferation of such attacks.
- Such as a lack of trained manpower to deal with and fix hacking and flaws. For example, in India, the requirement was for more than one million professionally trained forces to fight against cyber attacks like zero-day attacks.
- There is a general lacuna of awareness in the public regarding cyber security actions. The 1998 attack on the Sri Lanka Embassy by the LTTE was considered one of the earliest incidents of cyber terrorism.
- Legislatures are not following up with the advanced technology metamorphosis.
- Further, there is a lack of investment to fund such program courses and security issues.
- State-sponsored attacks had increased tremendously and are one of the reasons for the increasing vulnerabilities in computer software.
- Financial Greed had also been a motivating factor in targeting these flaws. It indicated that on average $540 million had been extorted as ransomware payments in early 2021.
- The intensity of threats is increasing rapidly each time it exploits cyberspace. And one of the most complex areas is the origin of such attacks and attackers. To mitigate the threats, there is a requirement for a solid task force. A lack of task forces had caused hindrances in understanding the behaviorism of such attackers.
5. How to prevent zero-day attacks
Practical user training against zero-day attacks
There needs to be a surge in training courses for users to understand and eliminate these threats. And these courses need to be practical knowledge to users and the recourse on the legal measures to follow in case of cyber threats.
Preventive and sturdy security
It’s wise to prevent viruses from entering the system. Maintaining a good sturdy firewall and modern date anti-virus always acts as the best option in adding defense to devices. Even when the origin of the threat is unknown, these programs will act as a bulwark in shielding your devices and security software from such damaging attacks.
It means “let the buyer be aware.” Owning the software and being oblivious to the fact that these attacks can happen to your devices would not be very resourceful. There needs to be an awareness among users, it can be through news platforms and focusing on software free from viruses.
A Network Intrusion Protection System (NIPS)
The origins and time of Zero-day attacks can not be anticipated, but NIPS can work to your advantage in the situation. NIPS works by understanding daily patterns of activities across the systems.
It’s conclusive that even unlike traditional anti-virus systems, it does not need to check software against other known databases for threats, and even if the attack has not been discovered or the protection systems have not evolved yet it will protect the system in advance. It protects against threats from internal as well as external sources by threat detection.
A Patch Management system
This is an administrator’s control over systems and devices in use. The aim is to identify system features that can help improve or fix the flaws, extricate the update package, and/or authenticate the versions for accuracy and better performance.
Understanding management is essential to defend against Zero-day exploiters is crucial. Zero-day prevention is done through bug fixes, patching flaws, and updating the systems.
An excellent Data backup
Now even if your entire system is protected with anti-virus technology, every software needs an excellent data backup, which can be effective to add another layer of protection. This will be inclusive of procedures to create regular copies of your essential documents and will be helpful in the restoration of the pre-eminent data.
How are Zero-day attacks fixed?
Zero-Day attacks are fixed by prioritizing patching the vulnerability, which refers to an administrator’s control over the operating system (OS), platform, or application updates.
It involves identifying system features that can fix, and update packages. Understanding that patching is essential to defend against Zero-day exploiters is crucial.
The flaws or vulnerabilities in the system that the developers are not aware of, if it comes to the knowledge of unethical hackers, will use this information to exploit the situation and use this for their ulterior motives. The developers didn’t have a day to fix it, consequently harming the files and distorting information in the system. Therefore it is essential to ensure that the software is always protected with extra layers of protected programs and to keep a backup for your work.