Ai Password Security

When discussing cybersecurity threats, any member of the general public could probably name several of the most common forms, like phishing, malware, and ransomware. Far fewer know about zero-day vulnerabilities, which are a form of attack that flies under the radar for most, apart from cybersecurity teams themselves.

Yet, for business professionals, it’s vital to gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential threats that could pose a threat to their business. Especially over the past five years, zero-day attacks have increasingly become a major problem for corporations around the world, undermining the fundamental IT infrastructure that we trust in.

In this article, we’ll dive into the complexity of zero-day exploits, outline what they are, and offer strategies that you can use to protect your business going forward.

What Is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?

A zero-day vulnerability is an underlying vulnerability in a device, application, or system that developers simply don’t know about. If a hacker is able to find this vulnerability before the creators of the product find it, it becomes a powerful potential exploit that can wreak havoc on any customer or business that uses the product. 

In 2021, one of the most extensive zero-day vulnerabilities, Log4Shell in Log4j, began to cause major damage to leading organizations around the world. As this exploit existed within Java, any device that used this system – which is upwards of 3 billion – was impacted. Zero-day vulnerabilities are becoming increasingly common for hackers to leverage. As businesses continue to advance their security architecture, older strategies like brute force attacks are becoming nearly impossible to execute. In their place, strategies like zero-day exploits, which are harder to detect and mitigate, have risen to the top. 

Of all of the potential cyber threats that a business could experience, 23% of businesses expected zero-day vulnerability exploits in 2023. For reference, the leading threat, email account takeovers, is expected by 33% of businesses. 

As there is no patch that can rapidly fix these exploits, each vulnerability is lying in wait for a hacker to find and exploit them.

Managing the Zero-Day Threat

When businesses first learn about zero-day threats, it may seem like an overwhelming task to manage. After all, how can we find exploits that are so hidden and underlying that even the developers of software, after extensive testing, couldn’t find them?

While it may seem complicated, the world of cybersecurity has developed numerous potential methods of detecting and eradicating zero-day threats before they become an issue. Organizations can use the following strategies and tools to manage the zero-day threat:

  • Penetration Testing: Penetration testing is where internal cybersecurity teams in your business take on the role of the attackers. They will probe your systems, attempting to forcibly break in or encounter vulnerabilities that allow them to do so. By using the tactics that hackers would traditionally use, they can simulate an attack and monitor how your system performs. This approach also allows them to find zero-day exploits before hackers do. 
  • Bug Bounty Programs: Bug bounty is a form of initiative that a company or software product owner will run to entice cybersecurity experts to find exploits in their system. Also known as ethical hackers, these individuals or teams will attempt to find exploits in a business system. Once they encounter a vulnerability, they can submit it back to the company and get a bug bounty reward, which is normally a large sum of money. Especially with an international web of ethical hackers, this is an effective way of rapidly finding many bugs that hackers could have otherwise used.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Tools: AI and ML tools are phenomenal in conducting quantity analysis. This is where a piece of software analyzes a huge quantity of data, like system behavior logs, to identify trends, patterns, and anomalies. While still a fairly recent technology, AI and ML security tools are becoming increasingly useful when monitoring for zero-day exploits in action.
  • Fuzzing: Fuzz testing, also known as fuzzing, is an automatic form of software testing where you inject programs with unexpected inputs. You do this to monitor for potential crashes, data leaks, or any other negative reactions. By identifying these bugs, you can then fix them if needed to enhance your cybersecurity posture. 
  • Threat Intelligence Partnerships: Threat intelligence partnerships are international networks of companies that work together to share evolving cybersecurity knowledge. For example, if you encounter a zero-day threat, you can share this information on these private networks to help other companies fix the issue before it becomes a problem for them. With thousands of businesses working around the globe to cover as many bases as possible, this is a great resource to rely on.

Although these potential solutions actively work to reduce the likelihood that a hacker is able to use a zero-day exploit against you, they cannot make you completely invulnerable. While it’s important to employ them, the best cybersecurity you have is foresight. Understanding the importance of regular updates, constant surveillance, and small iterations to improve your defenses over time will be your best form of protection.

Blocking Zero-Day Exploits

Alongside numerous active strategies that help to increase a company’s chance of preventing a zero-day attack, businesses are increasingly turning to modern cybersecurity tools. 

For example, Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP) technology actively monitors an application’s runtime environment. Whenever the application experiences anomalous behavior, like sudden changes in performance, RASP is able to alert administrators so that they can take action before hackers derail your application’s security.

RASP is just one of the many tools that companies can use to prevent zero-day attacks, uphold leading cybersecurity practices, and keep their businesses safe from the rising cyber threat.