Earlier, we explained what a zero-day threat is, and the damage it can cause from being unknown and undetected. We also talked about some additional software tools, like NGAV/EDR, Sandboxing and Detonating, that you can implement to help minimize the risk of damage. If you’ve heard of a zero-day threat, you probably also heard about zero-day vulnerability. While both terms may sound similar, they are actually two different concepts managed in two different ways, yet BOTH need to be high on your security radar.
What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?
A zero-day vulnerability is a software vulnerability, like a bug or a flaw, that has been newly discovered within an operating system or program. A hacker discovers this bug or flaw in the software design and then enables an exploit. A zero-day vulnerability is a novel vulnerability that no one has come across before (like the zero-day threat), so no one knows they need to do anything about it e.g.: there are no system patches or system updates available to fix the issue. By virtue of its newness, it can turn into a zero-day threat and wreak a lot of havoc. The story often goes: a bad guy detects a zero-day vulnerability in your system, and then launches a zero-day threat by exploiting the system vulnerability, costing your business a lot of damaged or stolen data.
The ‘Log4Shell’ Example
A well-known zero-day vulnerability made the news and was discovered in the wild on December 9, 2021, although it has been around since 2013. It’s called Log4Shell, and it’s estimated that hundreds of millions of devices are likely affected by it for years to come. This flaw targeted the popular log4j logging framework for Java. It was extremely dangerous due the vulnerability being super small and unnoticeable, but also persistent, with tons of public sources. The big players, like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft cloud data were all affected by Log4Shell, and continue to be to this day. In a perfect world, if you discover and fix the vulnerability before the bad guys find it, a zero-day threat won’t occur. So, let’s get into how you can do that.
How to Minimize the Risk a Vulnerability Turns into an Exploit
Thankfully, we are experts (we don’t like to brag) when it comes to stuff like this so, we have some great ideas that you can use to help protect your business. First, Next Gen Anti-Virus (NGAV) solutions detect behavior rather than known threats. Two solutions working together, NGAV and End Point Detection and Response recognize, alert, and act on unknown threats and alerts your IT department of unusual behavior before any damage occurs. The key is that these two tools both use behavior-based analysis instead of using the traditional database.
Additionally, you can minimize the risk of a zero-day vulnerability by making sure your network perimeter is secure as much as possible. A vulnerability isn’t an issue unless someone can actually get into your network to cause problems. There are key tools you can use to secure it, and one or more of them should be employed into your system right from the get-go: an effective firewall and limiting system access to only those who need it e.g.: user-defined roles.
Overall, the best strategies for preventing system vulnerabilities come from you. You must ensure your IT team release up to date patches that fix bugs and flaws identified in your software. Regularly maintain your software by incorporating optimization tools and scheduling update releases as soon as they come out. Businesses with outdated technology are much more likely to suffer a data breach (65%) than those running updated software and hardware (29%). Eliminate ‘end of life’, ‘sunset’ or out of date solutions as soon as they’re recommended. Make sure you’re moving off a software long before it is no longer supported so you’re always as secure as you can be. Security patches and upgrades aren’t available on outdated solutions and those systems are at extremely high risk of security vulnerabilities no matter what tools are in place.
Securing your systems and networks from threats and vulnerabilities is an ongoing critical activity but is a necessity if you want to reduce the risk of data theft and loss. Austin Germaine, a technical account manager from BT Partners says, “There are other ways to limit a zero-day vulnerability so if you want to know more, contact us for an assessment of your security. We will find a solution, or a combination of solutions, that’s right for you.”