What is a Zero-Day Exploit and how to prevent it?

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What is a Zero-Day Exploit and how to prevent it?

Are you aware of the fact that Zero-day exploits are more likely to be utilized by wealthy cybercriminals than ever? According to experts, the rise is directly linked to the exponential growth of the multibillion-dollar ransomware industry.

Zero-day exploits are powerful and dangerous vulnerabilities at the same time that are often targeted by government-backed hackers for espionage purposes. As per the report of 2021, it was reported that financially-driven (not politically-motivated) cybercriminals made up one-third of all known zero-day hackers. This is a great rise.

It is seen that there are huge earning opportunities in the field of zero-day exploits. For example, a US-based company sold a robust iPhone zero-day to United Arab Emirates spies for a massive $1.3 million. At the same time, another firm offered an amount of $2.5 million for an Android device zero-day exploit.
Have you ever wondered what a zero-day exploit is all about? Well, it’s an advanced cyberattack technique that can have devastating consequences. By following this respective article, one can come across the fact that it tells how it works, what it targets, and how to identify and prevent such attacks.

What is a Zero-Day Exploit?

A zero-day exploit is a cyber-attack technique that exploits un-named or unaware software or system vulnerabilities. Vendors are not even aware of the information about the same. Malware is a common zero-day exploit that is generally used to target government agencies, technology-driven companies, and many more.

A zero-day vulnerability is a missed software or system weakness discovered by hackers prior to it coming into the knowledge of vendors. Here, no security patch exists, no defence measures are taken place, and threat actors can breach systems without mitigation or detection.

A zero-day attack is defined as the use of a zero-day exploit in order to breach a system, steal data, harm an organization, or achieve any other malicious goal by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability. These attacks have a high success rate.

What is the lifespan of the Zero-Day Exploit?

A zero-day exploit can be explained in 7 stages. All the stages are explained below:
Vulnerability inadvertently created: In attachment to the vulnerable code, an unknown program or release is made by the software vendors.

Exploit identified: After spotting vulnerability by the hacker, they tend to devise ways to exploit the same.
Vulnerability discovered by vendor: Later, the weaknesses are exploited by the vendors, but a security patch remains unavailable.

Vulnerability disclosed: Software providers or security researchers reveal the zero-day vulnerability to the public platform, thereby inadvertently informing opportunistic hackers.
Antivirus protection released: Experts create antivirus signatures with the purpose of counteracting zero-day malware and averting further damage. However, hackers can still use the zero-day exploit to breach systems in other ways.

Security patch released: After going through all the measures, software vendors release a patch to address the vulnerability. The time consumed by the process is around days to months.
Security patch implemented: After the release of the patch, the organizations and individuals take time to update their systems and get the latest patches.

How Does a Zero-Day Exploit Work?

If we go through the working procedure of the zero-day exploit, we come to know that once malicious actors spot a zero-day vulnerability, they devise techniques to exploit it and breach a system.
The utilization of zero-day exploits is done by the hackers to make execution of damaging attacks in various ways. A newly discovered vulnerability can be successfully exploited by:
Malicious email attachments
Drive-by downloads
Virus or worm malware
Ransomware
Malware-embedded files and applications
Unsecured devices and hardware

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