While a technology exploit or vulnerability is never a good thing, hearing one described as “zero-day” adds another level of sinister malice to the term. However, it is still important to understand what is meant by zero-day, which is why we are going to review that term below.
First, it is important that we understand what a vulnerability is, so that we can better understand why a zero-day one is so bad. In short, a vulnerability is a flaw in a piece of software that can be exploited by a cybercriminal. A cybercriminal that uses malware to attack a system needs a way to introduce that malware. Vulnerabilities provide them with the means to do so.
What Does Zero-Day Signify?
For a vulnerability to be “zero-day,” it must be known and in the wild with no patch or update to fix it - effectively, the software developers have zero days left to resolve the vulnerability with no chance of misuse by a cybercriminal.
This often happens when a black-hat hacker, rather than a white-hat cybersecurity researcher, discovers a software vulnerability first. Under ideal circumstances, the researcher will find and report the flaw to the developer first, and a fix can be created before cybercriminals ever catch wind of the opportunity. However, if a hacker finds the vulnerability first, they have free reign to use it to their own ill-intentioned ends.
Protecting Against These Threats
The key to securing your systems against threats of all kinds, even zero-day threats, can be summed up in one word: proactivity. It is crucial that you update your organization’s technology--especially if these updates pertain to security standards--as quickly as possible, so that you are as well-protected as possible.
One of the most telling things about zero-day threats and vulnerabilities is how successful they still are after they have been turned into an n-day vulnerability. An n-day vulnerability is one that has been discovered and fixed. However, these fixes only work if they have been applied to a business’ technology. The infamous Equifax breach was carried out using a vulnerability that had been discovered, reported, and patched earlier that year. Equifax had not updated their systems by applying the patch, leaving the vulnerability available for those responsible to utilize.
In short, any business needs to be sure to keep their systems as up-to-date as possible to prevent threats--if not zero-day, then at least n-day--from being a hindrance for their operations. Advantage IT Management can help. We’ll make sure your systems are up to date on your behalf, and that your security is top-notch. Call us at 251-662-9770 for more information.
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