Understanding Zero Day Exploit and How to Avoid it

No matter how much work takes place behind creating a secure software, we’ve had many instances of data breaches and malware attacks taking place. This is because there are times when cyber criminals find vulnerability in the software before the developer or user does. Thus, they make full exploitation of the vulnerability, which may be discovered after the damage has been done. We can describe the entire series of events in just 3 terms – zero day exploit.

There is a gap of less than 24 hours between the attacker discovering the vulnerability and then exploiting it. This is the reason why we use the term “zero day” to describe the “exploit”. 

Real-Life Instances of Zero Day Exploit

Even the biggest companies in the world have faced these dangerous cyber attacks. Some of them include Microsoft and Google. Here’s what happened to them:

Back in 2017, a group of cyber criminals used a malware to release an unpatched version of Microsoft Word. By embedding a malicious code in the software, they managed to attack billions of users till McAfee discovered it.

Another attack took place in 2009, where the intellectual property of Google, Adobe Systems and Yahoo were targeted using vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Perforce (software used by Google to manage its source code).

Detection and Prevention 

There are plenty of strategies for preventing this dangerous form of cyber attack. Detecting them is not an easy job, but can be done using the following:

  • Using AI and machine learning to collect data on previous zero day exploits and using them to fix any errors.
  • The above database can be used for analyzing unknown vulnerabilities too.
  • Analyzing the incoming files in existing software.
  • Conducting code reviews after developing or updating a software.

While detecting vulnerabilities only reduces the risk of exploitation, prevention can take place with more foolproof solutions. These include implementation of network access control, web application firewalls, advanced AI solutions for fixing bugs and encrypting network traffic.

In spite of the fact that advanced technology exists to prevent cyber crime, zero day exploits are taking place. Both developers and users need to ensure protection from the same.

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