Zero-day is a term used in information security to describe malicious actions or code that hackers craft based on vulnerabilities they discover in operating systems, software, kernels, and even network architecture; the goal is to exploit these security flaws for financial profit, cyber espionage, or to conduct acts of digital vandalism. The reason these attacks are named zero-day is because of their recency. Sophisticated hacking outfits, particularly those that work with foreign intelligence agencies, take great pride in showing off their ability to develop zero-day threats because they increase their reputation in the underground scene.
The problem with zero-day attacks is that they are nearly impossible to mitigate when they are initially released; this is because no one other than the hackers are aware of the security hole, and this sends developers scrambling to issue critical updates in order to patch things up. For the most part, this happens quite quickly; by the time zero-day attacks make news headlines, the critical security patches have already been written and made available for installation.
Zero-day threats can be quite damaging. At SynchroNet, we consider the 2018 Marriott International data breach to have been one of the most spectacular cyber attacks in history; we are talking about the personal data of more than 500 million hotel guests and even employees being stolen because the servers of an internal booking and reservations system were not updated during a period of transition.
Business owners who are on top of IT security matters, and who know that critical security patches are being applied immediately, do not have to worry about zero-day threats too much. Those who do not know for certain if their data platforms are properly updated should consider an immediate security audit. In many of the security audits that SynchroNet specialists complete, one of the most glaring issues often discovered is a lack of a firm policy for applying patches, updates, and software upgrades that can effectively protect against zero-day threats.
Let's put it this way: If the operating system and software of your office network have not been properly audited and updated since 2020, your business lacks protection against more than a dozen zero-day threats, and some of them can be devastating.
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