Zero-Day Ransomware Attack: Risks, Trends, Protection Strategies
Zero-Day Ransomware Attack:
Risks, Trends, Protection Strategies
Software companies are always looking for previously unknown security flaws. When they find one, they immediately release a code repair, often known as a “patch.” On the other hand, a zero-day vulnerability is a weakness in software that attackers discover before the flaw is detected.
This post will explain zero-day attacks, how dangerous they are, the most common and latest trends of zero-day vulnerabilities, and how to avoid falling victim to these attacks.
What Is Meant By The Term "Zero-Day Attack"?
It is not uncommon for security flaws in computer systems to be uncovered at irregular intervals. These flaws in the security reflect loopholes that malicious actors might exploit to obtain unauthorized access to a system, damage, or compromise it. Documentation of already known vulnerabilities may be found in public databases like the National Vulnerability Database (NVD).
A zero-day attack, sometimes known as a 0-day attack, is a vulnerability in software that attackers leverage before the software vendor or security researcher is aware of its existence. At that moment, there is no fix available, meaning attackers may take advantage of the vulnerability since there are no protections. Because of this, zero-day vulnerabilities pose a significant security risk.
When attackers have discovered a zero-day vulnerability, the next step is to devise a delivery method that will allow them to exploit the flaw and compromise the system. E.g., a socially engineered email or other communication that seems to come from a known correspondent but is sent by an attacker. The message attempts to persuade the user to carry out a certain action, such as accessing a file or browsing a malicious website, which will inadvertently activate the exploit.
How Dangerous Is A Zero-Day Exploit?
The use of a zero-day vulnerability by an attacker to launch an attack on a system is known as a zero-day exploit. These exploits are particularly hazardous since they have a higher chance of success than attempts targeting vulnerabilities that have already been discovered. When a vulnerability is publicly disclosed on day zero, businesses have not yet had the opportunity to fix the issue, which means it is feasible to exploit the vulnerability.
The fact that increasingly sophisticated forms of cybercrime make strategic use of zero-day exploits is one factor contributing to the heightened risk posed by these vulnerabilities. These entities keep zero-day vulnerabilities in reserve for use with elevated targets, such as healthcare, financial institutions, or public sectors. It not only lessens the likelihood of a flaw being found by a victim but also has the potential to lengthen the exploit’s useful life.
Users must keep their systems up to date even after a patch has been deployed. If they do not, attackers can continue using a zero-day vulnerability until a patch is developed for the system.
Trends in Zero-Day Vulnerabilities
Mandiant Threat Intelligence detected 80 zero-day exploits in 2021, doubling the previous high in 2019. Chinese state-sponsored entities continue to attack zero-day vulnerabilities. Nearly 1 in 3 zero-day exploiters in 2021 were financially motivated, especially ransomware outfits. Microsoft, Apple, and Google zero-days were often exploited, reflecting their prevalence.
The significant growth in zero-day exploitation in 2021, together with the variety of actors exploiting them, extends the risk portfolio for businesses in practically every industry and area, especially those that depend on these popular platforms.
Protection and Prevention of Zero-Day Attacks
There are methods to be ready for zero-day attacks, even if they may be tough to protect against. Here are the four recommended practices to protect your organization against zero-day attacks:
Windows Defender Exploit Guard
A built-in security tool inside that provides good protection against zero-day attacks. This tool contains a number of features that work together to provide this protection. It can serve as the initial line of security against zero-day attacks that are directed against Windows endpoints.
Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)
Antivirus protection as we know it is typically useless against zero-day attacks. The reason is that they usually take advantage of weaknesses in previously released software. Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV) solutions, on the other hand, use threat intelligence, behavioural and advanced analytics, machine learning code analysis, and specialized anti-exploit approaches, all of which have the potential to be successful against some zero-day cyberattacks.
The establishment of a formal process and the implementation of automated tools can assist organizations in detecting systems that require patching, obtaining the patches, and rapidly deploying them before attackers can launch a zero-day attack.
Incident Response Plan
Having a specialized approach that is focused on zero-day attacks may help decrease confusion and enhance the likelihood of discovering, mitigating, and minimizing the harm caused by attacks that exploit vulnerabilities that have not yet been patched.