Understanding Zero-Day Attacks and How You Can Detect Them
Founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Microsoft continues to be a tech powerhouse because of its significant contribution to the advancements of computer software and consumer electronics. The company is best known for Microsoft Windows, its operating system, as well as the Microsoft Office Suite. This year, Microsoft was ranked No. 30 in the latest Fortune 500 rankings of the largest American corporations.
However, tech giants like Microsoft are exposed to system vulnerabilities. On November 1, it was announced on Twitter that Microsoft Edge had been compromised by a zero-day remote code vulnerability. Although the concerns were addressed almost immediately by experts, this is an example of how easy it is for some attackers to exploit software if you don’t provide the necessary protection.
The Zero-Day Exploit
A zero-day vulnerability is a cyber attack that happens on the same day that a software security flaw is discovered. Since the software doesn’t yet have a patch in place to fix the flaw, it leaves no opportunity for immediate detection and has the potential to be exploited by cybercriminals.
Here are the steps of the window of vulnerability:
- Developers create software that, unbeknownst to them, contains a vulnerability.
- The attacker discovers the vulnerability either before the developers do or hacks the system before the developers address the flaw.
- The attacker writes and executes an exploit code while the system is still vulnerable.
- After releasing the exploit, the developers report the issue as identity theft and come up with a solution to staunch the cyber-bleeding.
Detecting a Zero-Day Attack
According to Matrium Technologies, foreseeing a zero-day attack is one of the most important aspects of keeping your software strong and secure. While zero-day attacks are known to be quite difficult to detect, here are some strategies that you can try:
- Statistics-based detection - This type of detection that utilises machine learning to gather data from previously identified exploits. From there, you can avoid future zero-day attacks and create a baseline for safe system behaviour.
- Signature-based detection - With this strategy, you employ existing databases of malware and their behaviour as a guide when scanning for threats. Once you have analysed and created signatures for existing malware using machine learning, you can use the signatures to detect previously unidentifiable attacks or vulnerabilities.
- Behaviour-based detection - This detection strategy sees malware based on its engagement with the target system. Rather than looking at the codes of incoming files, you can analyse the malware’s interactions with existing software instead to predict if it’s the result of a malicious attack.
- Hybrid detection - You combine all three techniques to the make most of each strategy’s strengths while mitigating their weaknesses.
Microsoft is an excellent example of how you should never underestimate cyber attack threats. To keep your data safe, it’s best to establish effective online security habits and take proactive security measures when protecting your system. Working together with your team in keeping your software and network up-to-date helps shield your system from future vulnerabilities, giving you peace of mind.