22 March 2024

With cyber threats changing all the time, the fight to stay safe has become more important than ever. Bad people are always coming up with new, complex ways to take advantage of flaws in software and hardware. Zero-day bugs are some of the scariest because the software maker doesn't know about them and hasn't fixed them yet. Attackers have a dangerous window of time to take advantage of these holes, leaving systems helpless until a fix is made and put in place.

More and more people are worried about how common zero-day hacks are. A report from the 2023 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence says that 17% of all flaws used in 2022 were zero-day vulnerabilities. These numbers are much higher than they were in previous years, showing that hackers are getting smarter and braver.

When a zero-day hack works, the results can be very bad. Targets can be anyone from individuals to large businesses. Some of the things that could happen are data theft, operations being slowed down, and damage to a company's image. The 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations found that people were involved in 82% of data breaches, most of the time by taking advantage of a weakness. This shows how important zero-day flaws are for making large-scale breaches possible.

The idea of a "zero-day patch" shows how to be strategic in fighting these threats. A "zero-day patch" is a security fix that is made and made available as soon as a hole is found, ideally before hackers can use it. While a real "zero-day" reaction is very hard to achieve, quick patching greatly lowers the window of vulnerability, which limits the damage that could be done.

Zero-day meaning and definition

Zero-day vulnerabilities are security holes that have just been found and can be used by hackers to attack systems. This label means that the people who made or sold the software just found out about the weakness and don't have time to fix it before an attack happens. There is also a form of the phrase called "0-day." It is very important to know the difference between words like attack, weakness, and exploit when talking about zero-day threats:

A zero-day vulnerability is a flaw in software that attackers find before the seller does. This means that there is no patch available, which makes it more likely that an attack will work. Attackers use a method called a "zero-day exploit" to get into systems through these unknown holes.

When someone uses a zero-day hack to break into systems or steal data from them, this is called a zero-day attack.

Learning about zero-day attacks and how they work?

Cybercriminals use software flaws, which are weak spots, to cause a lot of damage. By putting out changes in software updates, developers are always looking for these holes and trying to fix them.

Attackers, on the other hand, sometimes find these holes first. Then, they make and use attack codes to take advantage of the weakness, which could let cybercriminals do bad things like identity theft to users. Attackers get this exploit code out to people by sending them misleading messages, like emails that look like they are real ones. This tricks people into getting malware. Attackers can then use this malware to get private data and steal it.

When a vulnerability is found, coders race to make a patch and users race to install it. Still, finding flaws can take longer than expected, giving attackers more time to take advantage of them. Even though a patch is available, some users don't update their computers right away, which leaves the risk window open. Exploits are no longer "zero-day" once they have been found and fixed, but they can still sell for a lot of money on the dark web until then.

Zero-day attacks are especially dangerous because only the attackers know about the weakness. This means that they can either attack right away or wait for the best time to do so.

Who is behind zero-day attacks?

Depending on their goal, bad people who use zero-day hacks can be put into different groups. As an example:

  • Cybercriminals are hackers whose main goal is generally to make money.
  • People who hack for a political or social reason and want the attacks to be seen to bring attention to their cause are called hacktivists.
  • Corporate spying is when hackers look into businesses to learn more about them.
  • Cyberwarfare is when a country or political group spies on or attacks the cyber infrastructure of another country.

Who do zero-day attacks try to get into?

A zero-day hack can take advantage of flaws in many systems, such as

  • Systems for running
  • Browsers for the web
  • Programs for the office
  • Open-source parts
  • Hardware and software
  • The Internet of Things (IoT).

Because of this, there are many possible victims:

  • People who use a weak system, like an operating system or browser Hackers can get into devices and build big botnets by taking advantage of security holes. People who have access to important business information, like intellectual property
  • Firmware, hardware, and the Internet of Things
  • Businesses and groups that are big
  • Government groups
  • Threats to national security and/or political goals

When you think about targeted vs. non-targeted zero-day threats, it helps:

  • Targeted zero-day attacks are carried out on people, businesses, or government bodies that could be valuable, like celebrities or well-known organizations.
  • Zero-day attacks that aren't targeted usually happen to people who use weak systems, like an operating system or browser.
  • Zero-day attacks can still affect a lot of people, even if the attackers aren't going after specific people. This is generally called "collateral damage." Non-targeted attempts try to get as many users as possible, which means that the data of most users could be stolen.

Find out how to spot zero-day hacks.

Zero-day flaws can be hard to find because they come in many forms, such as not encrypting data, not granting permissions, having broken algorithms, bugs, issues with password security, and so on. Because of how these vulnerabilities work, you can't get specific information about zero-day exploits until after the exploit has been found.

When a company is hit by a zero-day exploit, it may see strange traffic or scanning activity coming from a client or service. Some of the methods used to find zero-day vulnerabilities are:

  • using collections of malware that already exist and showing how they act as a guide. Although these files are updated very quickly and can be used as a guide, zero-day exploits are always new and unknown. In other words, a current database can only tell you so much.
  • On the other hand, some methods look for zero-day malware traits by watching how they interact with the target system. This method doesn't look at the code of incoming files but instead watches how they interact with current software to see if they are the result of malicious actions.

Machine learning is being used more and more to find data from exploits that have already been recorded. This is done to set a baseline for safe system behavior based on data from past and present contacts with the system. It is easier to make a reliable detection when there is more info available.

Zero-day exploits that have happened recently

In the past few years, these zero-day threats have been especially bad:

  • 2021 Chrome Vulnerability: In 2021, Google Chrome had several zero-day vulnerabilities that required quick updates. Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine was found to have bugs that caused these weaknesses.
  • 2020 Zoom Security Flaw: A very important security hole was found in Zoom, the popular videoconferencing software. Cybercriminals could directly access the PCs of users who were using old versions of Windows because of this flaw. If the user had administrative rights, the attacker could take full control of the system.
  • Weaknesses in the 2020 Apple iOS: Even though Apple's iOS is known for being secure, it had at least two major zero-day flaws in 2020. One of these lets hackers get into iPhones from afar.
  • 2019 Attack on Microsoft Windows in Eastern Europe: Windows' local escalation rights were targeted by a zero-day exploit, which mainly hurt government agencies in Eastern Europe. Attackers could run any code, install unwanted programs, and change data on computers that were vulnerable to the exploit. The Microsoft Security Response Center was told about the flaw, and a patch was made available.
  • 2017 Microsoft Word Attack: People who use Microsoft Word were targeted by a zero-day vulnerability that let hackers get to their personal banking information. When victims opened a malicious Word document, it asked them to allow material from outside sources. When you agreed to this request, malware was installed that stole your banking information.


Unknown computer threats are always a risk, which shows how important zero-day patches are. These fixes are an important part of keeping the system safe. They are quickly put in place to improve security against holes that haven't been used yet. A plan that focuses on zero-day patches is more than just a response. Its goal is to keep private data and important infrastructure safe from attacks.

Cyberattacks are much less likely to happen to companies that stay alert and put these patches at the top of their list of priorities. This level of alertness keeps activities running smoothly and builds trust among stakeholders. At its core, fixing zero-day vulnerabilities right away shows a strong dedication to safety. It shows that you are ready to change in the internet world, where threats are always changing. To keep yourself updated and seek top-notch cybersecurity service get in touch with SafeAeon today.

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