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3 Reliable Ways to Avoid Zero-Day Attacks

Zero day attack vulnerability broken chain

When looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, hackers will find a hole in your software, this is referred to as zero-day vulnerabilities. The next thing they do is quickly exploit it, which is referred to as zero-day attack.

However, if you were to look up these terms in the dictionary you have on hand or at home they more than likely won’t be in there.

Terms like zero-day vulnerabilities, zero-day attack, zero-hour attacks, 0-day attacks, and 0-hour attacks have been used in the technical field, along with many other computer-related terms, for more than ten years. These terms represent exploit attacks on the vulnerability of applications or programs of a computer. When looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, hackers will find a hole in your software, this is referred to as zero-day vulnerabilities. The next thing they do is quickly exploit it, which is referred to as “0-day attack.”

The hole in your software we’re referring to isn’t the problem, and this hole doesn’t stop or harm your programs or applications, or make them not to work properly. On the other hand, should a hacker come across one of these holes, they can use their abilities to access the vulnerabilities of that person’s computer and use those vulnerabilities to attack.

Computer hacker global threat

The term zero-day is appropriate because at this time the developers haven’t had time to defend against these attacks. Developers must work quickly once a hole has been discovered in order to fix the hole and prevent the possibility of it happening again.

When new software is introduced to the public, the developers have to wait for the holes in the software to show up before they can attempt to fix them (referred to as “to release a patch”). And of course, once the public and the developers are aware of vulnerabilities, time is short as the hackers are going to be trying to exploit the vulnerabilities the same day they are known.

Zero-day attacks in the past

Recently in the news there have been reports about zero day vulnerabilities and their exploits. Since you are reading this blog, you obviously want to learn more about the topic. In the list below are some of the most important events in our computer technology’s history in regards to zero-day attacks.

Past events regarding zero-day attacks in history:

  • A vulnerability that was found in a plug-in (and it was a popular plug-in) back in April of 2015. What they discovered was a vulnerability that if hackers had the chance to exploit, would have left millions of WordPress sites vulnerable to attacks, giving hackers an perfect opportunity to use the comment field of the site to run a malicious code.
  • There were a series of zero-day attacks made on Adobe Flash Player during January and February of 2015. For two whole months these attacks went undetected. The users were subjected and led to advertisements and then they were led to malware sites.
  • There were a series of zero-day attacks made on Microsoft Windows back in October of 2014, giving hackers the capacity to remotely access online users privileges.
  • Internet Explorer had been subjected to a zero-day attack back in September of 2013.

Yes, it looks as though things are getting a little out of hand. Even the experts are warning computer users that things are bound to get worse before they get better…

The number of zero day attacks between 2006 and 2012 ranged between eight and fourteen per year. However, by 2014 that number shot up to a high of twenty-five. Hacking computers has become a lucrative business. And we can predict things will not be changing anytime soon.

Who takes advantage of zero-day attacks

Anauthorized access computer hacker stealing data

Those who have knowledge of software vulnerabilities can buy and sell them on the market. Yes, you heard right, there is an underground market for this. There are three different categories of people who are interested in software vulnerabilities, those who want to be malicious, the developers who are trying to fix (patch) software holes, and even sections in the government.

When this knowledge is purchased or gotten a hold of by those who want to be malicious, they use the vulnerabilities to cause damage to the software, the people who are using it, and to ruin the companies, creating chaos all around the world.

However, when the developers purchase or get the knowledge of software vulnerabilities, it is used to find the means of fixing (patching) the software holes in hopes of eliminating any damage to users, the software, or to the company.

Here are 3 ways to avoid zero-day attacks

Businessman buckling up seat beltAnyone can protect themselves from zero-day attacks, and those who are taking the time to read this blog are definitely a step closer to doing that. So, continue reading, and take heed.

The following things can help you to avoid zero-day attacks:

Always use a good antivirus program, one that protects your computer from both known and unknown threats and attacks.

Use the software that has the most updated version. Should the update mention it is critical, take their word for it, it may be their way of patching your software hole.

Updates are usually set automatically, however, you are provided the option of turning it off. It is critical that you do not turn this option off, and highly recommended to stay up to date.

Only use the last version of the browser. Apps like Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox get automatic updates regularly. Any vulnerabilities that have been discovered are patched with these updates.

It never hurts to take precautions

Its life, so you have to take precautions on a daily basis to protect yourself from various obstacles. Do you buckle-up for your safety when you are about to drive? Do you purchase the travel insurance when you are about to travel on public transportation? Do you set your clock to wake you up on the morning an important appointment scheduled on?

It is no different for computer users. You need to plan ahead in order to protect yourself from various threats. So, always be sure that your anti-virus programs are powerful enough to do the job, and kept up to date. The same goes for your browsers and all software you use.

[Photo used for the featured image: “Breaking all chains” by Kristian Niemi, used under CC BY-NC-ND]