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What is Zero Day Exploit? Risks and Why is it called Zero Day?

zero day exploit

This post brings you a review on zero day exploit. Herein, we’ll be showing you its risks, detection and preventive measures, as well as the rationale behind the term “zero-day”.

High level of risks are associated with zero-day exploits, with hundreds of software (and hardware) developers falling victim every year; losing millions of dollars in the process.

To get more information about this scourge, follow through this article. Read on!

What is zero day exploit: why is it called “zero day”?

Zero day exploit is a cybersecurity breach, which is encountered less than 24 hours after the discovery of a leak or loophole in a program’s security setup.

In a typical zero-day exploit, hackers get wind of a security breach before the developers could muster up a fix. This basically occurs in the space of 24 hours; which is the time between discovery (of a vulnerability) and the first cyberattack (via the vulnerable point). This sums up the rationale behind the term “zero day”. When an attack is experienced after 24 hours of leak discovery, it becomes a “one-day exploit” or “N-day exploit”.

Besides, users of software/hardware discover security flaws all the time; and where necessary, such discoveries are duly communicated to the developers, who, in turn, plug the leaks as appropriate.

However, when a security flaw is first discovered by a hacker(s), a zero day exploit is imminent. This is because, developers are unaware of the vulnerability, and thus, have no system in place to prevent resulting breaches.

The question then is: how can developers detect zero day exploits?

How to detect zero day exploit

Unlike “N-day exploits”, which may continue after a leak has been plugged, zero-day exploit is limited to the first 24-hours. And while it’s generally difficult to prevent it, developers can put certain measures in place for early detection.

In addition, intrusion detection systems like IPSes and IDSes are not sufficient for zero day exploit detection/prevention. Hence, most developers adopt the “user behavior analytics” detection system, which analyzes users’ behavioral patterns. This analytical system marks out activities deemed “abnormal”, and classifies them as “risks” (of zero day exploits).

Furthermore, developers now have security pacts with prominent cyber researchers/experts. With this alliance, discovered flaws are withheld from the public and reported to appropriate quarters. This allows developers to come up with a patch, before such vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers.

However, while major detection systems have, thus far, recorded massive success, zero day exploit remains a serious cybersecurity issue.

Risks of zero day exploit

Developers stand to lose a lot from zero day exploits. Basically, hackers are able to breach a software’s security without the developers’ knowledge. In the process, they gain access to privileged and highly sensitive information, which could be worth millions. Notable tech firms like Adobe and Microsoft have fallen victim of zero day exploits in recent times.

Similarly, it’s on record that notorious cybercrime groups like the state-backed Chinese cybercrime syndicateAPT41 – have launched zero-day attacks on some high profile developers. And as reported by FireEye, game developers could be the next target of zero day exploits by APT41.

In a nutshell, victims of zero day exploit run the risk of losing valuable data, money and reputation. Hence, all efforts should be made to plug/patch leaks as soon as they are discovered.

How to prevent zero day exploit

As pointed out earlier, it’s highly difficult to detect zero day exploits; hence, without a viable detection system, prevention is generally more difficult. Nonetheless, certain measures can be put in place to curb, or at least minimize the resulting effects of zero-day attacks.

Here are some of the preventive measures:

  • Deploy intrusion detection systems.
  • Encrpyt network traffic using the IPSec – IP security protocol.
  • Run regular drills and checks to discover potential zero day vulnerabilities
  • Ensure that all relevant systems are up-to-date.
  • Use virtual LAN
  • Make use of a strong antivirus program
  • Deploy NAC to control access to sensitive areas of a program’s development hub.

Share your cyber threats experience with us by commenting below.

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Daniel Segun

Editor-in-Chief at SecureBlitz Media
Daniel Segun is a Content Writer and Editor with over 6 years of experience. When not writing, he's probably busy designing graphics or developing websites.
Daniel Segun
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