What You Need to Know About Zero Day Attacks and Prevention Strategies
Since 2012, zero day attacks have increased significantly from one year to the next. And while security measures like ransomware have been deployed to mitigate the threat of zero days, experts don’t expect the upward trend to reverse any time soon. In fact, in 2023 alone, the Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) identified 69 zero-days, with 44 of those exploited in cyber-attacks.
In part, this can be explained by the potential pay-off of a successful zero day attack; they might be expensive to fund, but in some cases, those who carry them out stand to gain tens of millions of dollars. And zero day attacks are not limited to the standard cyber criminal. They are also a popular tool for hacktivists, state-sponsored cyber warfare hackers, and corporate espionage hackers who are looking to achieve goals outside of monetary gain.
For that reason, it has never been more essential for businesses to consider zero day attacks and prevention strategies in their risk mitigation measures. Below, we’ll take a closer look at zero day attacks and what you can do to protect your business or organization from exploitation.
The Sony Pictures Zero Day Attack
A zero day is defined as a “vulnerability or security hole in a computer system” that is unknown to the system owners, developers, or anyone else capable of addressing it. A zero day attack, then, is one that exploits that vulnerability before it can be fixed. Many cybersecurity experts consider zero day attacks to be one of the most devastating forms of cybercrime due to the damage that bad actors can inflict before anyone is even aware that there is a problem.
One of the most famous zero-day attacks happened in 2014 when a group known as “Guardians of Peace” released confidential data obtained from Sony Pictures. The US Governments investigation believed this attack to be sponsored by North Korea, which has since denied all responsibility. This data included personal information about Sony employees and their families, information about executive salaries, copies of films that hadn’t been released yet, internal emails, scripts, and other information. In total, the hackers claimed to have taken 100+ terabytes of data… and that was after they had been able to access Sony’s network, undetected, for months. All possible because of a zero day vulnerability in Sony’s systems.
Where Do Zero Day Vulnerabilities Come From and Who Is Impacted?
Anyone can be the target of a zero day attack. In the case of Sony Pictures, the attack targeted employees, executives, actors, and decision-makers. But zero day vulnerabilities can impact everyone including end users, people with access to business data, entire organizations, and government agencies. Operating systems, web browsers, and IoT-connected devices can all be subject to zero day vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit.
Zero Day Attacks and Prevention Strategies
Due to their nature, zero day vulnerabilities can be tricky to identify. That is, in fact, the appeal for many bad actors. However, there are some prevention measures you can take to ensure your business or organization is as protected as possible.
Timely patching is a proactive defense strategy that can help minimize the risk of falling victim to zero day attacks. Patching not only allows businesses to apply security updates and fixes promptly, but it also reduces the attack surface by closing known vulnerabilities. By applying patches as soon as they’re released, and staying on top of all the latest updates, your organization is better equipped to deal with zero day vulnerabilities swiftly.
Threat Intelligence Solutions
Cybersecurity specialists use threat intelligence to gain valuable insights into emerging threats and vulnerabilities. When it comes to zero day attacks and prevention strategies, threat intelligence solutions provide cybersecurity specialists with advanced knowledge of IoCs, or indicators of compromise, enabling them to respond quickly to breaches in your network. Threat intelligence also provides invaluable information on tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by cyber attackers. With this information, they can formulate more effective prevention strategies to help safeguard your organization from zero day vulnerabilities.
Network segmentation is a strategy cybersecurity specialists often employ to minimize the possible impact of a zero day attack or any other kind of security breach. It involves dividing your computer network into distinct sections so that even if a bad actor does gain access, they’re limited in what they can impact and where they can go. If this had been in place at Sony Pictures, the hacker group may not have been able to access the breadth of data that they ended up leaking.
Zero Trust Security Model
Finally, a zero trust security model emphasizes the principle of “never trust, always verify”. In the case of zero day attacks and prevention strategies, few approaches will serve you better. By minimizing trust assumptions, enforcing strict access control, and continuously verifying the legitimacy of users and devices, cybersecurity specialists can minimize or even prevent zero day attacks on your organization.
Defend Against Zero Day Attacks with Inversion6
At Inversion6, we provide tailored cybersecurity solutions for businesses, non-profits, and government organizations. We are a cybersecurity risk management provider with decades of combined experience in the industry. Our services include managed cybersecurity solutions such as SOC, managed XDR, managed MDR, and managed SIEM, alongside various assessment, advisory, and compliance services. We are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection against cyber threats, including zero day attacks.
Connect with our team today to get started.