We all know this for a fact that the internet is a dangerous place for your data. Even after your organization’s constant effort, you can’t be actually sure that all your information is completely secure in the vast environment of the internet. This prevailing uncertainty of the security of your defences from any kind of network breach is what most businesses in today’s time neglect as bad luck. But sometimes you come across some vital piece of information that indicates the fact that some of the incidents are not just bad luck but carefully choreographed attacks better termed as a zero-day attack.
Its origination can very well be traced back to the dark web where all the hackers buy information regarding the internal structure of vulnerable software, which allows them to break through them quite easily.
One of the most interesting things that make these attacks dangerous for the global audience, including all the organizations within the assorted industries, is that the victims who fall prey to them, tend to lose their revenue and reputation, without ever finding the actual reason behind it.
HOW EXACTLY SHOULD IT BE DEFINED?
Zero-day vulnerability can be defined as a security flaw in particular software that is known to its vendor, but with no patch in order to fix it. The time of action for the hackers is the time taken between discovering the flaw and releasing a patch for it.
So if we take a befitting example and talk about the relation of such zero-day attacks in a particular market, like say, the United Kingdom, we can say that these attacks make it seem like the hacker breached through an exposure that was intentionally created specifically for them. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that it’s because of these attacks that the overall reputation of the GDPR and privacy services consultancy firms in London has deteriorated so exponentially. But logically, we can’t blame it all on the attackers who breach a stipulated network; neither can we hold these consultancies responsible for not aiding with the best in order to protect your firm.
In other words, we can say that it’s not about blaming any party for a zero-day attack; rather, it’s time to focus on why exactly is it so dangerous?
THE SEVERITY OF ZERO-DAY ATTACKS
There are two reasons why these zero-day attacks (exploits) are among the most dangerous ones and are usually reserved for high-value targets like financial and medical institutions. These are:
- The flaw or the breached/exposed node in the software is kept confidential by limiting the communication with hacker forums. This way, the confidentiality can continue its course for as long as these cyber-attackers like.
- The most important reason is the fact that it takes an average of 59 days for the software vendor to roll out the patch for the particular flaw.
Therefore, this way; these attacks have already been successful and are likely to grow even more in the near future.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ZER-DAY ATTACKS
- Account Takeover (ATO) Attacks: In these attacks, the exploit malware is able to take unauthorized control of a particular system, and then, can be used in different malicious ways; like installing another malware in order to send phishing messages to the contact list of the victim.
- Watering-hole Attacks: These attacks are primarily executed to target websites that attract a high number of visitors. The malware then monitors the webpage and starts spreading within seconds of users visiting the website. The main reason behind pulling such a stunt is to affect as many users as it’s possible before the flaw is determined.
- So now, that we have a rough idea about the background of these attacks, we can take a look at some of the steps taken by cyber-security consultants and analysts, to protect their client’s organization from them:
- Statistical Analysis: Involves machine learning to collect data from previous attacks, so that a security framework can be made to mitigate future attacks.
- Signature Analysis: The past attacks are compared with the recent data patterns to gauge potential threats of same nature. Machine learning is then used to create signatures of existing malware, which is finally used to detect unknown vulnerabilities.
- Behavior Analysis: The behavior detection process looks for suspicious interaction patterns. It oversees the behavior of the hacking entity and its interaction with the concerned website. Once the patterns seem unusual, a zero-day attack is declared there and then.
- Hybrid Analysis: All the above-mentioned approaches are combined into a single scoring system to assess the chances of a breach.
SO WHAT NOW?
As of now, it has been considered widely, that the cyber-security consultancy firms and other cyber-security professionals are working together to fight these attacks with the very popular Zero Day Initiative (ZDI). The ZDI was created with a vision to encourage the whole process of reporting a particular flaw in the particular software which can be the entry point for the cyber-attackers. This was done by rewarding researchers financially. This way, the vendors can come up with a patch before the exploit takes place.
However, all of this isn’t so easy. Protecting your firm from a zero-day attack is as difficult as it is to find the best 27001 audit and gap analysis services in the UK. The fact that it only takes one loose end within your network infrastructure to implement a zero-day attack, makes it all the more inevitable. This can be one of the many reasons why the experts have predicted that the frequency of zero-day attacks will rise up to one per day in 2021, the same rate was one per week in 2015. Therefore, we can very well see the efforts to fight these attacks.