5 Key Tips to Prepare for the Next Zero-Day Attack

It’s a full-time job keeping up with digital threats, including phishing, ransomware and denial-of-service attacks. Since their usage is so versatile and clever, preparing for zero-day threats could quickly rise to the top of most risk management priority lists.

Cybercriminals are developing innovative solutions as cybersecurity analysts prepare thoughtfully against persistent and creative attacks. Their popularity is even more noticeable during times of international conflict.

What Is a Zero-Day Attack?

Zero-day attacks are challenging to detect, as they take advantage of vulnerabilities that were only recently discovered. Imagine programs you’ve used in your company for a decade suddenly uprooted by a criminal outfit — all because they found a susceptibility they could take advantage of. This is happening at the highest frequency in history. Other targets include:

  • Operating systems
  • Internet browsers
  • Applications and software
  • Cloud services
  • Hardware
  • Internet of Things (IoT)

Nobody is immune to a cyberattack — individuals and Fortune 500 companies are equally exposed. Even inactive work accounts are liable to zero-day attacks since hackers can use them to disguise activity. Businesses with seemingly full-proof risk management plans could still be targets for the most expert cybercriminals.

Since zero-day attacks are a recent trend, many program developers have either forgotten about outdated software or new programs aren’t considering additional defenses to cover vulnerabilities. Patches are more common, but there is still work to do.

What Prevention Solutions Exist?

Hackers attack to obtain data to damage, steal or exploit. Fortunately, there are solutions to fortify defenses and stay informed to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

1. Perform Updates and Patches

This encompasses an umbrella of actions that could sum up into a solid prevention plan. One surefire way to keep any tech secure is through consistent updates. Developers issue patches to account for technological modernizations, including vulnerabilities they noticed. Scheduling machines to update regularly is one straightforward solution.

Your company could also take an extra step and reach out to developers and engineers. Are there technologies your company relies on to survive and does not want to be manipulated by a vulnerability? Communicate throughout your network to ensure nothing is left unchecked. This also includes analyzing your supply chains. A question may spark a vendor to reevaluate their security procedures.

Strong patch management works alongside staying updated on emerging technologies better at preventing threats, like next-generation antiviral software. Cybercriminals must find ways to exploit the routes to the data — not the data itself. Adding obstacles will hinder progress. MTE (MicroToken Exchange) technology is a perfect example: It secures the actual data at the application level instead of the route the data takes. While this will not stop an attack from happening, it does prevent cybercriminals from using your data, because it replaces your data with instantly obsolete, meaningless, random streams of value. This puts data security in the hands of the application and lessens security dependance on https://eclypses.com/the targets of zero-days.

2. Get the Most From Windows Defender Exploit Guard

A lot of prevention comes down to knowing the capabilities of the resources at your disposal. One of the most versatile is Windows Defender Exploit Guard. It includes customization options that can be activated to mitigate attacks — here are some of its utilities:

  • Attack surface reduction (ASR): This explains how Windows Defender minimizes the number of spaces cybercriminals can perform a zero-day exploit. It can stop malicious activity in their tracks in areas like emails and Office files.
  • Folder access permissions: Employees may question why they can’t access specific folders, but it’s part of cybersecurity training to inform why limiting access is a nonnegotiable facet of digital hygiene. It provides more walls around sensitive data and pinpoints authorizations. The source may be easier to trace in an attack.
  • Network protection: This monitors inbound and outbound network traffic, ensuring no communications are shared that shouldn’t be. It also evaluates IP addresses and network connections for trustworthiness.

3. Fortify Business Continuity Plans

There are several frameworks for creating a formal strategy for threats. Business continuity plans are comprehensive outlines of how to prepare, as well as how to act on them if they do occur.

This also forces cybersecurity analysts, IT teams and executives to be on the same wavelength concerning security testing and who to communicate with during a threat. Business continuity plans could include countless facets, from suggestions for testing AI-powered cybersecurity to incident response. The more exhaustive it is, the stronger your data becomes.

4. Educate About Threats

Education will decrease the number of points of entry for cybercriminals. Every employee should know what zero-day attacks are. Then, the importance of updating their software and other best cybersecurity practices will happen naturally — giving hackers fewer options for attack.

This includes educating remote employees about mobile threat prevention, such as only putting flash drives in trusted USB sources and only connecting to trustworthy networks. Another way to inform employees is to involve them in cybersecurity testing processes like data validation exercises.

5. Perform Consistent Backups

The goal of most cyberattacks is for the victims to lose data. Prevent data loss by having multiple secure backups, strong digital rights management (DRM) and a strategy for keeping those up to date. This could save millions if a company falls prey to a ransomware attack — you would not need to pay to retrieve encrypted data if you have it stored somewhere else safe.

Incident response efforts could place resources into protecting customers directly instead of wasting time obtaining the data.

Your company could automate this process onto backup hardware using external hard drives, cloud storage or online backup services — just ensure they have credentials.

Preparing for Zero-Day Attacks

The most crucial facet in preparing for zero-day attacks is urgency. Knowing how severe and undetectable the threat could be will increase the prioritization of implementing robust security practices. More individuals and companies that take cybersecurity seriously will create a safer digital environment for everyone.

Written by: Zachary Amos, Contributor