Firms rely on computers to conduct their day-to-day business, store data, and perform many operations that are critical for business’ continuity. Anyone who owns or manages a business should strive to keep their IT security up to date with bug fixes and security patches. In our last blog post we briefly talked about the importance of having a vulnerability management program and ways to build it that keeps your company secure. Following on from that we’re going to talk about zero-day attacks; What are they, and how can you defend your business?

Zero-day attacks are a matter that should not be taken lightly, especially given the growing number of attacks and the speed in which zero-day vulnerabilities are discovered and relevant zero-day exploit codes are developed. Experts believe the frequency of zero-day attacks will rise to as often as once per day during 2021, in comparison to just one per week during 2015 (Source: Cybercrime Magazine).

Before we dive into the methods to protect ourselves against zero-day attacks, we will first briefly explain the meaning of a zero-day vulnerability, and how this creates the potential for a zero-day attack. A vulnerability is referred to as ‘zero-day’ when it is discovered before developers create a patch to fix it, and it is a unique challenge. If cyber-criminals identify a vulnerability then they are able to attack straight away, giving the developers an extremely short amount of time to fix the problem, hence the term ‘zero-day attack’. 

Here are some steps you can take to protect your business against the threat of the unknown:

  1. Keep your systems up to date with patches: Even though the zero-day attacks are caused by zero-day vulnerabilities where patches aren’t available, keeping your systems patched and meeting your firm’s vulnerability management program SLAs or OLAs targets could very well create another barrier to the attacker, therefore minimizing the window of opportunity required to exploit the targeted vulnerability, thus keeping your company secure.
  2. Perform audits and penetration tests: It is not the end of the world if a patch doesn’t exist for a known or a zero-day vulnerability. Your security strategy must be to protect against known and unknown attacks by following best practices recommended to you by a consulting company like Euclid Security or by your internal staff. Regular audits and penetration tests will help to evaluate your security posture on multiple layers and expose any weaknesses that your environment has, making it harder for attackers to get in and cause damage via exploiting a zero-day vulnerability.
  3. Educate users/employees: User awareness, education, and training are critically important. You could be spending thousands on technical protection but without the proper training, there will be a much higher risk of end users interacting with a phishing email, causing a costly exploit that could have been avoided by improving user’s cyber behavior and educating them in new cybersecurity skills.
  4.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Whenever you have doubts or security issues that you are not sure how to resolve, don’t be hesitant to have a conversation with professionals by hiring a third-party consultancy company to help you make the right decision for your company. Most consultancy companies provide services similar to what Euclid Security and will greatly help in improving your security posture.

When it is not possible to completely eliminate risk, you can minimize it by applying compensating controls that will keep your information and IT environment safe. At Euclid Security we offer professional vulnerability management and assessment, including penetration testing, cyber security training, and phishing exercises. We can also help you with all your security initiatives, including technical audits, such as firewall, Active Directory, and more. You can read more about our security assessments here, or get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.