A zero-day exploit is a cyber attack in which the hacker attacks on the same day a flaw is found in a software, before it’s patched. When abnormal behaviour is observed, the user reports it to the software company, and the company takes some time to develop a security patch to fix the flaw. But in case of Zero-day attacks, the attacker can start exploiting the device even before a security patch is developed and applied.
Why are they dangerous?
Let us take an example, suppose you are using your computer and a colleague requests for a particular file. You insert his pen-drive in your device, copy the file and remove the pen-drive. There’s a possibility that the drive had a malicious software that installed on your device in the background and is now threatening its security. In such a scenario, the attacker can have partial to complete control over your device, and you won’t even notice. You are unaware of the fact that your activities are being tracked and your confidential information is being exploited.
When you come to know about the attack, you will still need some time to fix the problem, and it will be too late by then. This is why Zero-day exploit attacks are very dangerous.
Zero-day exploits are very effective on secured systems and networks. Thus, users of secured networks need to be well aware of safe computing practices.
There are many techniques today which are very effective against the memory corruption vulnerabilities of Zero-day exploit attacks such as buffer overflows. Protection mechanisms exist in the contemporary operating systems like macOS, Windows, Linux, Unix and Solaris by default.
There are several desktop and server protection software that can help in reducing the risk of Zero-day buffer overflow vulnerabilities. These software use Heuristic Termination Analysis strategy to stop the attack before it can cause any harm. However, buffer overflow is just one of the numerous problems caused by these attacks.
How to protect oneself from the attack?
- Download attachments only from trusted emails.
- Keep track of unusual activities on the device.
- Keep a check on the incoming traffic on your computer network.
- Keep the security patches up to date.
- Keep updating the system software from time to time.
- Use antivirus software.
- Connect only trusted hardware devices in your device.
- Take regular backups of your data.
Though it is impossible to safeguard your device from zero-day exploit attacks completely, they can be prevented to a vast extent by using precautionary measures. How long do you take to notice abnormal behaviour of your device? Let us know in the comments below.