A zero day attack is a type of cyber attack that exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in a software program or operating system. These attacks can occur at any time, hence the name “zero day”, as the vulnerability is yet to be detected and fixed by the software vendor. As a result, these attacks can be extremely dangerous and can cause significant harm to individuals, businesses and governments. In this blog, we will explore what zero day attacks are, give examples and discuss the top five ways business owners can help prevent them through best practices and continuous cyber security improvement.
Examples of Zero Day Attacks
- Stuxnet: In 2010, the Stuxnet worm was discovered to have infected the nuclear program of Iran. This sophisticated malware was designed to attack the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) of the centrifuges that were used to enrich uranium, causing them to spin out of control and ultimately destroying them.
- WannaCry Ransomware: In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, encrypting files and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. The attack leveraged a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that had been previously unknown.
- Equifax Data Breach: In 2017, the credit reporting agency Equifax suffered a data breach that exposed the personal information of over 145 million people. The breach was caused by a zero day vulnerability in a web application framework that Equifax was using.
Top Five Ways to Prevent Zero Day Attacks
- Keep Software Up-to-Date: Keeping software up-to-date is one of the most important things businesses can do to prevent zero day attacks. Software vendors often release patches to address known vulnerabilities, so updating regularly will help to ensure that your systems are protected against any known threats.
- Implement Strong Access Controls: Implementing strong access controls such as password policies, two-factor authentication, and role-based access controls can help to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
- Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans: Regular vulnerability scans can help to identify potential weaknesses in your systems before they can be exploited.
- Train Employees on Cybersecurity Awareness: Regular training for employees on the importance of cybersecurity and how to identify and respond to potential threats can help to prevent attacks from happening.
- Work with a Cybersecurity Professional: Working with a cybersecurity professional can help to ensure that your systems are secure and that you are taking the right steps to prevent zero day attacks. This can include regular security assessments, penetration testing, and threat intelligence analysis.
In conclusion, zero day attacks can be extremely dangerous and can cause significant harm to businesses. By keeping software up-to-date, implementing strong access controls, conducting regular vulnerability scans, training employees on cybersecurity awareness, and working with a cybersecurity professional, businesses can help to prevent becoming a victim of these types of attacks. Continuously improving cyber security through best practices and awareness is key to staying ahead of the threat.