As cybercriminals become more agile, threats to data security loom large for businesses of all types. Especially notable are “zero-day vulnerabilities” — unnoticed flaws within a software application that allow hackers to enter networks through a proverbial “back door.” This article explores zero-day vulnerabilities and the practical measures businesses can take to protect against attackers who look to find and exploit such vulnerabilities via zero-day attacks:
What is a zero-day vulnerability?
A zero-day vulnerability is a security flaw within a software program. Such a flaw could be caused by either a mishandled security configuration or a programming glitch. If cybercriminals are able to locate the vulnerability before the security settings are fixed or the software is patched by the developers, they may be able to hack your network.
Why are zero-day vulnerabilities so concerning?
Zero-day vulnerabilities are concerning because they pose a serious and often undetected threat to a business. Because these flaws are usually present long before the software developer recognizes the issue, engineers truly have “zero days” to develop a fix — as such, the resolution must be as close to immediate as possible. If the zero-day vulnerability is announced publicly or is discovered by attackers, the zero-day vulnerability can easily become a zero-day attack.
How do cybercriminals exploit zero-day vulnerabilities?
If an attacker finds a zero-day vulnerability in your software, they can enter your network and install malware or spyware. Once a malicious program is introduced, hackers can proceed to seize your information, take control of your applications, and create chain reactions by infecting other programs on either your computer or your network. Increasingly, hackers are utilizing ransomware-based tactics where they encrypt data and only release it when paid a heavy ransom.
How can you protect against zero-day attacks?
While it is impossible to totally prevent zero-day attacks, you and/or your IT Managed Services provider can take several steps to protect your business and mitigate damage:
– Be proactive. Use security software to guard against bad actors that might be trying to access your data or software.
– Always install updates immediately. If an update or patch becomes available for software you are using, install it right away — clicking the “install later” button could result in cybercriminals having easy access to your data.
– Configure security settings. Ensure that your web browser, security software, and operating system security settings are correct and effective.
– Practice safe technology habits. Ensure that any websites you visit or files you download are safe and secure. Limit connections to open networks, use challenging passwords, and always double-check the validity of emails or communications that seem out of place.
– Train your staff. Whether you manage IT in house or use an IT Managed Services Provider, set aside time and money to train your staff on how to spot threats and attacks.
– Hire professionals. An IT Managed Services Provider like Qnectus can offer an array of high-level endpoint security and threat intelligence measures to protect your business against zero-day attacks.
In order to protect against zero-day attacks, it is important for business owners to be proactive, ensure high levels of security, train staff adequately, and call in professional help whenever necessary. If you’d like to learn more about how to guard against zero-day attacks, contact Qnectus today.