Zero-day threats are those security vulnerabilities in the hardware/ software that are not known to exist until a breach/ attack happens. Zero-day attacks are unexpected by the businesses and therefore, very dangerous and damaging as there are no patches or fixes available to protect the web application/system/software.

The hackers and cyber-attackers may have been snooped around for a few days or few months to find vulnerabilities and as soon as they find these loopholes and gaps, they exploit them either directly by developing and unleashing malicious codes and malware or indirectly by selling the security loopholes or malicious codes in the black market. Developers and businesses come to know of these threats only when the attack has already happened, and several customers/ end-users have been affected.

Some facts and figures

According to studies conducted by Ponemon Institute, zero-day attacks are the most dangerous, prevalent and damaging of the cyber attacks in 2018. Businesses have lost millions of dollars due to zero-day attacks in 2018, especially small and medium businesses.

Cyber-attacks lead to big losses for organizations, big or small. Monetary losses are definitely there whether in the form of downtimes, productivity losses, lawsuits, data leak, fines, and lawsuit or infrastructure damage. But what hurts organizations more is the loss of customers, brand image, reputation, and goodwill.

In 2018, successful cyber-attacks lead organizations to endure costs to the tune of $7.12 million on an average. While big names in the business such as Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and Adobe may be able to recuperate faster from such attacks, small and medium business cannot for they may lack resources (human or financial) and the infrastructure. The cost of successful cyber-attacks on small and medium businesses is, therefore, close to double that of the average.

Why do zero-day attacks happen?

The most important reason for zero-day attacks to happen is the presence of vulnerabilities in the web application/ software/ system. When vulnerabilities of any kind exist, they provide opportunities for hackers to orchestrate any form of attack including zero-day attacks.

The other reason for zero-day attacks to happen is that the developers and the organizations do not know that such vulnerabilities exist, either because they do not have a foolproof cybersecurity strategy, scanner and WAF in place or that they are negligent or that they hold false notions that their organization and its resources will not be targeted.

Even when the organization is proactive, and the developers have identified vulnerabilities, it takes time to fix the vulnerabilities. It takes over 100 days even for critical vulnerabilities! The hackers are generally several steps ahead of organizations and use this time taken in fixing the vulnerability to carry out the attack.

Securing zero-day threats

The most important pre-requisite for organizations in securing zero-day threats and mitigating such attacks is to have a proactive attitude towards cybersecurity and a strong cybersecurity strategy. This apart, we have put together steps you can take to secure zero-day threats.

Continuous detection and monitoring: One of the main reasons for zero-day threats is the existence of vulnerabilities and the lack of awareness on the organization’s side about its existence. So, it is vital that organizations continuously monitor their web applications, systems, etc. to detect potential threats, vulnerabilities, and loopholes. An advanced web scanner such as AppTrana can be employed to do this.

Employ an advanced WAF and security solution: Basic and straightforward measures do not work to secure zero-day threats and avert the resulting attacks in today’s scenario where the cyber-attackers are leveraged the rapidly advancing technology. You must employ advanced security solutions that can handle not only known vulnerabilities but capable of handling the advanced MO of cyber-attackers.

AppTrana is a comprehensive, managed and advanced security solution that provides round-the-clock, end-to-end security with proof of concept and zero false positives. It combines the power of automation and human expertise to secure web applications, systems, and devices. The intelligent WAF acts as the first line of defense against hackers and malicious requests. When vulnerabilities are detected through regular scanning, AppTrana immediately patches it until fixed and thereby, blocks malicious requests. It also analyzes attack patterns and attack behavior.

Hire expert services of certified security professionals: Nothing can replace human expertise. So, hire the services of certified security professionals to heighten to your security measures and strategy. It is only with the help of such professionals can you conduct penetration testing to find loopholes that machines cannot.

Do not ignore updates: Updates contain important patches and must not be ignored. Always keep your software, application, browser, etc. updated.

Whitelisting is as important as blacklisting applications, software, etc. By whitelisting, you are denying permission to access your systems and applications by default and allowing only those requests that are approved.

Implementing security protocols: As discussed earlier, be proactive about cybersecurity. Put in place a security protocol, raise awareness about it among your employees, end-users and other stakeholders and implement it so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in case attacks happens.

Zero-day threats are emerging as the biggest threats to organizations today. So, it is important to take the necessary steps to secure zero-day threats and save millions of dollars for your organizations.  If Organization takes a proactive approach towards security they can stay one step ahead of the hackers as they have to address and know about risks only for their own applications and take steps to prevent it before hackers can hack them. Hackers on the other front have to spread their net to find weak spots before they target.  So proactive, continuous and business priority to security fixes is a must have for the organization to stay one step ahead of hackers and mitigate zero-day threats.