“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure,” said the famous Bill Gates. While Microsoft Windows continues to be the most preferred operating system in the world, it does have certain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by black hat hackers. And zero-day malware does exactly just that: it utilizes a security vulnerability on the very same day it is made public or it is discovered by the software vendor. This type of attack is extremely dangerous since only the hacker knows it’s happening.
Identifying Zero-Day Attacks
Identification methods of zero-day exploits (attacks) can be done via the following options, among others:
• Signature-based: This is dependent on signatures left by detected exploits.
• Statistical-based: This consists of analyzing attack profiles from historical information.
• Hybrid-based: This is a mixture of these two techniques.
A customary method of identifying zero-day exploits often depends on independent networks and endpoint defense software, which could create gaps in the security system. However, this might not be sufficient to keep away attackers who use sophisticated means, the detection of which needs an integrated, multilayer solution.
How Is a Zero-Day Attack Created?
Attackers armed with zero-day malware typically target certain security weaknesses and write code that profits from it in order to compromise the system or to generate unwanted behavior. If the device does get infected, the hacker could steal your data or take over your PC.
These attacks mainly take place in four stages:
1. Initial stage: Hackers try to identify system weaknesses. This is achieved by a profound analysis of the program by studying its source code and typically demands comprehensive knowledge in the field.
2. Fuzz testing: This takes place as the attackers try to locate weaknesses by entering random values into the software.
3. Generation: This is where the zero-day exploit is generated after the possible entry points and weaknesses have been found.
4. Application: After the malware has been created, it is spread across the internet and potentially inserted into the user’s system.
How Can I Protect My Device Against Zero-Day Exploits?
An appropriate defense against zero-day attacks should be comprised of:
• Complex preventive security measures that could include maintaining firewall policies in accordance to business and system needs.
• A set of planned actions in case an attack occurs. If affected by this type of attack, having established procedures and roles to follow is handy for users and especially businesses to help minimize damage caused by the attack.
• Adopt healthy online habits, meaning not clicking on attachments from unusual email senders and not downloading files from unknown sources.
• Download and install powerful antivirus that can assist you in safeguarding your system against malware, viruses, spyware, and anything else that could be delivered via a system weakness. Ensure your antivirus is always updated so that it can keep up with the latest threats.
Even though some of the greatest lessons can be learned by error, do not become a victim of zero-day malware and exploits and take the appropriate measures to ensure your life or your business runs without problems. Even though there is no guaranteed recipe for avoiding this type of threat, following the appropriate security measures can massively diminish the risk of being affected by them.