The Impact of Zero Day Exploits on Cybersecurity

The Impact of Zero Day Exploits on Cybersecurity

Imagine you wake up one day to log into your system and get the news that an issue or vulnerability in your software previously unknown to you has been exploited by cybercriminals. This is how zero day exploits work, by targeting vulnerabilities that you haven’t yet found in your cyber risk assessment efforts. 

 

Such vulnerabilities and threats are resting in the shadows until hackers use them to strike unexpectedly, putting organizations at risk. Due to their hidden nature, zero day exploits are quite challenging for cybersecurity, posing the risk of financial and data loss. In this post, we’ll read about the impact of zero day exploits and how cybersecurity can mitigate them.

What is a Zero Day Exploit?

In a zero day exploit, cybercriminals take advantage of an unaddressed or unknown security flaw in a system’s software, firmware, or hardware. The term ‘zero day’ means that the device vendor or software owner has no time to fix the flaw as threat actors can already use the vulnerability to steal data, plant malware, or cause other types of damage.

 

According to a report by IBM, there have been 7327 zero day vulnerabilities since 1988. Even though it’s just 3% of all recorded vulnerabilities, zero day exploits are a major security risk, especially for popular operating systems and devices. Large organizations and a lot of users become exposed to cybercrime until the zero day exploit is mitigated. Third party risk management services are vital because vulnerable partners can hurt an organization.

Lifecycle of a Zero Day Exploit

A zero day vulnerability is present in a device, app, or OS after it is released. However, the user does not know it and the vulnerability can stay undetected for a long time. Sometimes, software developers and security teams are able to find the threat and mitigate it, but it’s possible for hackers to find and exploit it first. 

 

When vendors find it out first, they tell the customers, asking them to take necessary precautions. Sometimes, they keep it a secret until they find an update to fix it. However, this is dangerous as organizations are caught off-guard if hackers find it first.

 

As soon as there is a zero day flaw, there is a race between cybersecurity teams trying to patch it and hackers trying to use it for a zero day exploit. Usually, it is faster for hackers to exploit as compared to finding a fix for the vulnerability. Typically, when a zero-day attack starts, security teams use information from the exploit to find the flaw and fix it as soon as possible.

Impact of Zero Day Exploits on Cybersecurity

Google’ Threat Analysis Group states that there were around 100 zero day exploits in 2023, indicating a big rise from the previous year. These attacks have the potential to spread quickly and cause a lot of damage to organizations as well as individuals, because of their unpredictable nature. 

 

It is necessary to invest in a TPRM software in order to prevent exploits stemming from third party vendors. Organizations can suffer financial loss, lose sensitive data, and it breaks trust among their clients. 

Breach of Security

Zero day exploits allow hackers to access an organization’s system resources, network, and valuable data in an unauthorized manner. Attackers can get their hand on sensitive financial information, important records, intellectual property, and personal data of the staff. Until the cybersecurity team comes up with a solution, the risk factor continues to rise.

Heavy Financial Loss

By exploiting zero day weaknesses, cybercriminals can cause heavy financial loss to organizations as well as individuals. The losses keep going up because of incident response tasks, legal liabilities, system recovery, and reputational damage. Also, the amount of time, effort, and resources that go into fixing this attack also takes a financial toll on a company. 

Disruption of Operations

When an organization is targeted by a zero day exploit, it completely disrupts its day-to-day operations. There is a loss of productivity, downtime, and many critical services and operations have to stop. Unless the zero day vulnerability is completely fixed and patched, normal operations cannot take place which is really detrimental for an organization.

Conclusion

As more and more industries go digital, it becomes vital for them to understand the risk of zero day exploits. Just like a natural calamity, these attacks can happen anytime as cybercriminals are always looking out to expose such vulnerabilities.

 

The impact of a zero day exploit is huge, and it quickly grows, if not fixed as soon as possible. Organizations and security teams need to take a proactive approach by detecting vulnerabilities at an early stage, monitoring and analyzing their network continuously, and quickly deploying patches to fix threats. To protect organizational assets and maintain trust among their users, organizations should have a strict stance against zero day vulnerabilities.

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