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What is ‘Zero Day’?

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What is 'Zero Day'?

Have you come across the term ‘zero-day’, in the context of threats to computer security? If so, do you know what zero day threats actually are? A zero-day threat is perhaps one of the dangerous cyberattack problems you could encounter, and it can be devastating if you’re not prepared.

Defining Zero-day Threats

First of all, it’s essential that you understand what it is about a zero-day threat that is so alarming. It starts with software vulnerabilities. These are flaws in software that allow cybercriminals and hackers to infiltrate your system and access your important data or cause havoc. The malware that hackers use generally needs to take advantage of a software vulnerability.

When a vulnerability is known to software engineers there’s a window for them to resolve the problem, as long as hackers haven’t seen it first and begun to exploit it. If hackers are already using the vulnerability to cause trouble, and there’s no patch or update yet available, it means that software writers effectively have zero days to respond before cybercriminals catch on to the flaw.

It’s often the black hat hackers (the bad guys) who discover these vulnerabilities first, rather than the white hat cybersecurity researchers who usually alert software developers that a potential opening for cybercriminals exists and needs a patch or other remedy. Ideally, the good guys are ahead of the game, but that isn’t always the case.

How to Stay Protected against Zero-day Threats

If you think that you can’t possibly have the expertise to detect and protect your business from zero-day threats, you’re largely correct. But there are still things you can do. The way forward is to be proactive about your computer security. If developers discover a software flaw, and issue a patch, it needs to be installed as soon as possible. Frequent updating of your business IT makes sure that you’re protected and the window for an attack is closed. What was a serious threat becomes what is known as an n-day vulnerability.

It’s worth remembering that a zero-day threat can still succeed even after flaws have been discovered and measures taken to make them into an n-day vulnerability. This happened in the massive Equifax security breach in 2017. A flaw had been identified and a patch issued, but it wasn’t applied quickly enough to prevent a cyberattack in which personal information, including credit card details, about nearly 150 million people was stolen.

Zero-day threats are a major problem and all businesses need to take proactive action to protect against them to minimize the risk of a cyberattack.

To find out more about how you can protect your business now, reach out to Quikteks at (973) 882-4644.

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