As the world is becoming more digital, cyber-attacks are growing at an exponential rate day by day. These days there are many kinds of vulnerabilities and opportunities that are used by the bad actors to launch an attack. Zero Day exploit is an attack that targets a vulnerability in the software which is unknown to the software vendor himself. An attacker makes use of this lucrative opportunity which before else.  This attack is known as zero-day attack as not many defenses are equipped enough to tackle these kinds of attacks and hence, they succeed in breaking into the system easily as compared to any other exploitation. This is the reason why a zero-day attack has to be detected and mitigated as early as possible before much damage is done. In other words, the vulnerability has to be fixed in zero days as it has been exploited already. Because zero-day vulnerabilities can take numerous formats – such as missing data encryption, missing authorizations, damaged algorithms, bugs, issues with password security, and so on – they can be challenging to detect. Due to the essence of these kinds of vulnerabilities, clear information about zero-day exploits is known simply after the exploit is recognized. Entities that are targeted by a zero-day exploit might notice random traffic or questionable scanning activity arising from a customer or service. Some of the zero-day detection techniques include:

  • Usage of existing databases of malware and their behavior as a reference.
  • Some methods examine zero-day malware characteristics based on how they interact with the target system. This method does not examine the code of incoming files but examines the interaction they have with the target file.
  • To detect data from earlier documented exploits to set a baseline for secure system behavior established on data of past and present exchanges with the system, machine learning is used.

Zero-day attack begins with a zero- day vulnerability which is a loophole in the software. This is majorly due to errors in programming done by the developers who do not follow the security standards and mandate of programming. This can be a devastating attack on the network as the damages caused by it may be irreversible.

One of the most talked about vulnerability these days is about the Log4j vulnerability (the CVE-2021-44228 Log4j vulnerability). This is wreaking havoc and has created a much greater impact than it was anticipated to have. Log4j is a java library developed by Apache Software Foundation and is typically used to log error messages in any application using it. A vulnerability in this library which is an open source one is one of the biggest security vulnerabilities on the internet with a 10 out of 10 severity score in common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS). This remote code execution flaw in Log4j library is being crazily exploited across different parts of the world in different ways leaving no time for the security teams to implement preventive measures on time.

Any device that’s running Apache Log4j 2 versions (ranging between 2.0 and 2.14.1) and is exposed to the internet is at major risk of a cyber-attack. Most of the organizations are trying to take necessary actions to safeguard from being affected by this attack. As of now the potential impacts could be kept minimal by taking the necessary actions to contain the attack.

Web Application Firewalls can play a major role in protecting against these attacks by deploying virtual patching at the entry level. Virtual patching is more of a quick fix or a quick implementation of a security policy meant to block the zero-day attacks from taking place. This will buy some extra time for the developers to do an actual fix at the software end so that the vulnerability could be patched permanently to prevent future exploits from taking place. The thought on how security teams can gain enough time to fight against this attack has to be pondered upon seriously before the bad actors get too much of information onto their hands and then to the dark web.

About Author

Vaisakh is the CEO and chief architect of Prophaze Technologies. He is an Electronics Engineering graduate with a deep passion for software. Participating in RuxCon, an international hacking community, fueled his passion for cyber security. Combining his insights with the experience gained by working for various MNCs led to Prophaze.

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