How do zero day attacks work?
A zero day attack is a kind of advanced persistent threat often launched using email phishing, spear-phishing, whaling, malicious links, weaponized attachments, impersonation, and other advanced threat methods to gain access to a corporate system and deploy the zero day exploit of the vulnerability.
What is zero day exploit?
A zero day exploit is malware that attacks a previously unidentified software vulnerability. The terms “zero day exploit” and “zero day attack” are often used interchangeably. The basic difference is that the zero day attack infiltrates a corporate network, usually through a breach in email security, with a zero day exploit that steals or damages data or causes some other kind of disruptive malicious havoc.
Because the vulnerability and the damage caused by the attack is usually not discovered until hours or days afterwards, and sometimes even longer, the targeted organization has “zero days” to implement a patch to fix it.
Once a zero day exploit is discovered, it is no longer considered a zero day kind of threat.
Who are the targets for zero day vulnerability?
Any organization that uses email is a target for zero day vulnerability. This ranges from large corporations such as Microsoft (famously attacked in 2021) to smaller organizations. If you use email, your network is a target for zero day vulnerability.
How to identify zero day exploit?
Zero day exploits are identified primarily by examining suspicious emails, unusual network traffic and software behavior. Of course, it’s best to identify a zero day exploit before an attack is successfully launched. This is why a multi-layered email security system equipped with high-level threat detection is absolutely essential to your organization.
What are some examples of zero-day attacks?
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom became a popular platform for remote workers to meet. Unfortunately, it also became a popular target for a zero day attack. Users running Windows 7 and older versions had a vulnerability that allowed remote access to all their files.
One of the most famous zero day attacks, however, was Stuxnet, used to exploit Iran’s uranium enrichment operations.
These are only a few examples of zero day attacks. The ones we don’t know about, unfortunately, may be the zero day attack that affects your organization.
What are the best practices for protection against zero-day attacks?
Train everyone in your organization in basic threat mitigation. Promote awareness of suspicious emails and other safe practices such as not opening unknown attachments or clicking on links outside of your organization.
Back up all your systems and develop a disaster recovery plan.
As important as these practices are, perhaps the most important is to install a multi-layered email security system.
Stopping a zero day attack requires multi-layered email protection
A zero day attack represents a severe threat to data security. A zero day attack is a kind of advanced persistent threat that exploits a vulnerability within a piece of software, using this weakness to access a corporate network in the hours or days after the threat becomes known but before it can be fixed or patched.
Email security is paramount to protecting an organization against a zero day threat, as attacks are often initiated through a malicious link or weaponized attachment. Preventing a zero day attack requires multiple layers of protection to defend against malware, viruses and spam as well as targeted attacks such as phishing, spear-phishing or a whaling attack.
Preventing a zero day vulnerability with Mimecast
Mimecast offers effective protection against a zero day attack with comprehensive email security services that use sophisticated, multi-layered detection engines and intelligence to stop threats before they reach the network.
With Mimecast, email and data security protection is always on with continual updates on the latest intelligence and zero day attack reports.
Mimecast email security is easy to manage too, eliminating the cost and complexity usually associated with email security solutions. Administrators can manage flexible and granular policies from a single web-based console and apply policies globally in real-time to ensure compliance and improve security.
Mimecast solutions for defending against a zero day attack
Mimecast Secure Email Gateway helps to prevent a zero day attack by providing 100% anti-malware and 99% anti-spam protection. Mimecast Targeted Threat Protection adds additional protection with specific tools for identifying and thwarting a targeted attack.
- Impersonation Protect scans the headers, domain information and body text of all incoming messages to search for signs of social-engineering commonly used in spear-phishing and whale phishing attacks.
- URL Protect scans the URLs in all incoming email and blocks any links deemed to be suspicious. URL Protect also scans links in archived email to prevent the possibility of a delayed attack.
- Attachment Protect defends against weaponized attachments by sandboxing attachments, scanning them for malicious code, and not allowing employees to open them until deemed safe.
Learn more about defending against a zero day attack with Mimecast, and about Mimecast solutions for advanced persistent threat detection.