Hooded Cyber Criminal 690x349.jpg - What is a zero-day attack and what can you do to protect your business from one?

What is a zero-day attack?

Viruses and malware are written to take advantage of inadvertent vulnerabilities found in software applications. Often a vulnerability is found and the race is on to develop a patch to fix the problem, while the criminals rush to develop a virus or malware to take advantage of the problem.  Vulnerabilities can be found in software ranging from Windows OS versions, business applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, email applications, mobile OS versions, line of business applications such as accounting software, EMR/EHR systems, and the list goes on and on.

A zero-day vulnerability is a newly discovered software security flaw known by the software vendor; but the vendor doesn’t have a patch in place to fix the flaw.  These vulnerabilities can be exploited by cyber criminals to compromise computer systems.  When hackers are able to take advantage of a zero-day vulnerability that doesn’t have a patch available, that’s called a zero-day attack.

How can you protect your business from zero-day attacks?

Zero-day vulnerabilities pose a serious security risk to your business. In the case of a zero-day attack, there obviously isn’t a patch available to fix the security flaw.  So, what can you do?  The best defense is to have proactive and reactive security measures in place.

Proactive security measures include a strong intrusion defense or firewall with a comprehensive security gateway layered on for added protection.  Add to that a next generation anti-virus application that can identify attacks by their behavior, not their signature.  Artificial Intelligence based endpoint protection or anti-virus provides a level of protection against even unknown risks like zero-day attacks.  Having advanced email security helps to protect the #1 delivery vehicle for most viruses or malware, your email.  Lastly, you want to have a business class Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Backup solution in place to ensure your business can be back up and running in a matter of minutes should you be hit with a zero-day attack. Most importantly, you should also be constantly training your employees so they become an added layer of defense rather than your greatest weakness against cyber-attacks.

On the reactive side, you need to make sure that patches are installed when they become available.  You should have your systems actively monitored so issues can be addressed quickly before they get out of hand.  And you should have IT professionals available to assist in mitigation and recovery should you become the victim of an attack.

You may not be able to completely stop every cyber-attack, but having a well-defined plan of defense can ensure that attacks don’t put you out of business.

To learn how to protect your business from today's evolving security threats look to  IT professionals that understand cyber security and have the tools and know-how to help keep your business secure.