Learn what zero-day exploits are and how they affect your security

Internet users by connecting our computers to the Internet are exposed to many threats. Thus, our devices can be infected with viruses, Trojans, computer worms and other types of malware. To this we also have to add that we can be victims of a phishing attack, ransomware and more. However, even if we take all the necessary security precautions, there are times when we can be attacked. In this article, we are going to talk about what zero-day exploits are and how you can protect yourself.

What are zero day exploits

The zero day exploits we can define them as an attack on our software that uses an unknown security flaw and that does not have time to be corrected before the hack occurs. In that aspect we can find them in the black market of exploit and its price is established based on its impact and the number of vulnerable devices.

Without a doubt, zero-day exploits present a dangerous threat that can put our computers at risk through a series of attacks. The digital world that we enjoy is useful and enjoyable, although we must not forget that we are vulnerable to cyber attacks. In this aspect, zero-day exploits are especially difficult to protect because they take advantage of vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered and therefore have not been remedied either.

Thus, it is easy to be surprised and even Kaspersky found zero-day exploits on Microsoft Windows servers which makes the danger real and worrying.

How do they work

Cybercriminals find or create vulnerabilities by inspecting their target’s programming and analyzing their operating system, browsers, and software. Its purpose is to find vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, either through carelessness or error. Other times what they do is create those vulnerabilities by tricking victims into downloading malware. On the other hand, we also have the danger of clickless attacks that routinely deliver harmful content through messaging apps without us interacting with them.

Additionally, these zero-day exploits are also used, shared, or sold by hackers. Some of them are unique and will exploit them over and over again until they are patched and thus fixed. This is without forgetting the market for zero-day exploits in which cybercriminals find flaws in a system and then sell the knowledge to other cybercriminals or even companies to make a profit. Companies to protect themselves are adopting Zero Trust networks in which no one is trusted and in which network segmentation is important.

Protect yourself from zero-day exploits

The first thing we have to do is use safe software and hardware. In this aspect, for the prevention of zero-day exploits, we must prioritize updating our software and having a quality antivirus. Our goal should be to shut down as many attack vectors as possible and detect their attacks as early as possible.

On the other hand, we have to understand and comprehend our technology along with any vulnerabilities they may have. For example, knowing when they have abnormal behavior can be important to know that something is wrong. Here it is important to know both the devices and the programs as well as their failures. We also need to let automated cybersecurity do its job and be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t make sense. Also, constant observation will be much more important if we have to perform the tasks ourselves.

You also have to address human error. Thus, human negligence or misinformation can lead to zero-day threats just as easily as a buggy or ignored program. Regardless of whether we work alone or in a group, we have to be prepared and know the tricks that cybercriminals use. In this aspect, we must be very careful when we view the content of a file or click on a URL. You may be interested in learning how to differentiate whether an email is official from an entity or a phishing attack. Here the importance of how we act with a URL is vital.

An important question in case we are victims of zero-day exploits would be have a contingency plan to have defined strategies in case of attack. In that aspect it is not enough for us to close the compromised software or disconnect from the Internet. We must also apply the following strategies:

  1. Patch the vulnerability.
  2. Scan for viruses.
  3. Change passwords and more.

Lastly, learning about our assets, vulnerabilities and their solutions can guide us to better defend against zero-day exploits.

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