Zero-Day Vulnerability: How to Protect Yourself and Minimize Exposure Windows After Patches Are Issued
In the world of tech and computer systems, things are not always as secure as they seem. Hackers and cybercriminals are well-versed in identifying system weaknesses, including zero-day vulnerabilities that can be devastating for the company or organization that is targeted.
But there are ways to help mitigate the damage in the aftermath of a zero-day patch, including vulnerability management and a tailored cloud security solution for you. Keep reading for more information!
What Is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?
In terms of software and computer system vulnerability, these types of threats refer to previously unknown types of attacks. And because of their elusive nature, such malware and other threats to your operating system and data are not yet covered by patches that mitigate the problem.
The way in for hackers can be as simple as a zero-day bug or weakness in the computer operating system or hardware. Since this vulnerability is so new, typically just being brought to the knowledge of the company who is compromised and the subsequent software developer, it is known as a “zero-day” weakness, prime for exploitation.
What Is a Zero-Day Exploit or Attack?
To answer this question, let’s go over the typical occurrence and consequences of a zero-day attack example. But keep in mind the absolute gravity of this situation— not only can these attacks cost upward of $1 million, but their frequency continues to rise and in 2021 at least 66 zero-day attacks were recorded by MIT.
So, what are zero-day attacks? This happens when a hacker identifies a portion of hardware or software that contains a flaw or bug that allows easier access for a cyberattack. This type of zero-day bug is not noticed by the developer until it’s too late.
For instance, in the summer of 2019, Microsoft Windows experienced a large exploit under zero-day classification that was similar to a phishing attack. In particular, this zero-day attack targeted Microsoft’s local escalation privileges and used malware to manipulate user information.
Specifically, the vulnerability of Microsoft’s win32i.sys kernel driver was exploited, which seemed to be a common point of entry until a patch was deployed. This highly impacted Microsoft’s data in terms of integrity, availability, and confidentiality, with critical vulnerabilities that still remain an issue, called CVE-2021-26427 and CVE-2021-36970.
It might seem problematic that such zero-day vulnerabilities are still common even in big companies like Microsoft, as well as others like Sony Pictures and even the Democratic National Committee, but it’s more common than you imagine
Tips to Mitigate Patching Zero-Day Vulnerabilities
So, you might now be wondering— how do you prevent a zero-day attack? Let’s take a moment to go over some of the best ways you can protect yourself from 0-day attacks and lower the likelihood that such an exploit will detrimentally affect your company, users, or data.
That’s where vulnerability management comes in to deal with the ramifications of a zero-day attack, whether it has happened yet or not.
Enforce Good Cybersecurity Practices
Keep everything cyber-secure— always make sure all firewalls are up-to-date, use anti-virus and malware prevention tools, and avoid opening suspicious-looking emails that could contain phishing links.
Leverage Active Protection & App Whitelisting
As part of what is known as Zero Trust Security, whitelisting allows only certain applications to run on company software, preventing more vulnerable open-source code programs from becoming a risk factor for your data. This includes centralized management, flexibility, and granular control.
Multi-Layered Security Defenses
More security is always better than less, including intrusion detection, network monitoring, and application control. And if you want to outsource this type of protection, cloud cost management solutions are always a great option for a busy company!
Partner Up with an MDR Provider
A managed detection and response partner, or MDR, is a good way to take the onus of protection from your shoulders. These specialists are experts in threat intelligence and MSSP, among other things, and can handle your cybersecurity flawlessly.
Regularly Update Online Infrastructures
Make sure you are always downloading and deploying the latest patches for your company and user infrastructures. By keeping up with the most up-to-date fixtures, you can hopefully prevent zero-day attacks.
Secure All Email Gateways, Servers, & Networks
Firewalls, passwords, and biometrics are all key to keeping access to your critical data locked down and only available to those with the privilege to utilize it, and preventing information from being leaked to the wrong persons.
Streamline Patch Management
Instead of sourcing each patch as it becomes available and possibly missing some, use a software management technique that allows patches to be downloaded as needed and on a schedule, like an MSP’s automated patch management.
Use The Principle of Least Privilege
Finally, make sure only the people who need access to certain data have the means. The fewer individuals whose logins or email systems can be compromised by a hacker, the safer your information!
In summary, there seems to always be a latent threat of cyberattack or a successful hacking job when dealing with the world of software and computer systems.
But the best way to keep yourself and your data safe is by understanding the risks, and employing some successful practices to mitigate the threat of zero-day vulnerabilities and subsequent attacks. Being proactive is one of the best ways to prevent these exploits!