Zeroing In: Defending Your Small Business Against the Unknown Cyber Threats

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Your small business is like a ship navigating uncharted waters. You chart a course, set sail, and hope for the best. But what if there's a hidden danger lurking just beneath the surface? A danger that you can't see, can't predict, and can't defend against until it's too late?

 That danger is the zero-day vulnerability - a cyber threat that can strike without warning, exploiting vulnerabilities that no one knew existed. In this post, we'll dive deep into the zero-day dilemma and explore what small businesses need to know to stay secure in the face of the unknown cyber threat.

What are zero-day vulnerabilities? 

Zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits are a type of cyber threat that can be particularly dangerous for small businesses. These are security flaws in software or hardware that are not yet known to the public or security vendors. This means that attackers can use them to gain unauthorized access to a system, steal sensitive data or cause damage before anyone even knows that the vulnerability exists.

Think of it like this: imagine you have a lock on your front door to keep your home safe. A zero-day vulnerability is like a secret way to open that lock that only a burglar knows about. They can use this secret way to enter your home undetected, even if you have the best security system in place. This is why zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits are so dangerous – you can't protect against a threat that you don't even know exists.

Hackers can discover these vulnerabilities by studying software code or testing for weaknesses in a system. Once they find a zero-day vulnerability, they can exploit it to gain access to a computer system, steal sensitive information, or cause other types of damage. Because nobody knows about the vulnerability, there are no patches or fixes available to protect against it.

How do attackers exploit zero-day vulnerabilities? 

Attackers exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in various ways depending on the type of vulnerability and the specific system or software that it affects. 

Here are some common methods that attackers use to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities:

Exploit kits: Attackers can use exploit kits, which are collections of software tools and techniques, to automate the process of finding and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities. These kits can be purchased on the dark web and are designed to target specific types of software or systems.

Phishing: Attackers may use phishing emails to trick users into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment that contains malware. The malware can then exploit a zero-day vulnerability to gain access to the system.

Watering hole attacks: Attackers may target a specific website that is frequently visited by the target audience, such as a popular news site or industry-specific forum. They will infect this site with malware that exploits a zero-day vulnerability, and then wait for users to visit the site and become infected.

Social engineering: Attackers may use social engineering techniques, such as pretending to be a trusted source or authority figure, to convince users to install malware or provide access to their systems. The malware can then exploit a zero-day vulnerability to gain access to the system.

What does a real-world Zero-Day attack look like?

In May 2019, WhatsApp announced that it had discovered a vulnerability in its software that had been exploited by attackers to install spyware on users' phones. The vulnerability was described as a "zero-day" vulnerability because it was previously unknown and had not been patched.

Here's how the attack worked:

The attacker would initiate a WhatsApp voice call to the target phone number. Even if the target did not answer the call, the attacker could use the vulnerability to inject malicious code into the target's device.

The code could then be used to install spyware that could access the target's data, including their messages, call logs, and other sensitive information.

The vulnerability was particularly dangerous because it could be exploited without any user interaction or knowledge. In other words, the target did not have to answer the call or click on anything for the spyware to be installed.

WhatsApp quickly issued a patch to fix the vulnerability and advised all users to update their app to the latest version. However, the incident highlighted the potential dangers of zero-day vulnerabilities and the need for companies to take proactive steps to identify and address them before they can be exploited by attackers.

This is why it's important for small businesses to have strong cybersecurity measures in place, like firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems, as well as keeping software up-to-date with the latest security patches. 

Additionally, services like Lockwell can help to proactively monitor your network for unusual activity, detect and respond to zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits, and continuously update your security defenses against new threats as they emerge.

How Lockwell Protects You

  • Real-time Threat Analysis: Lockwell's device security module includes real-time threat analysis and remediation. This means that if an exploit is detected, the AI Security Engine can quickly analyze the threat and take action to remediate it before it can cause any damage to the network or data.

  • Automatic Alerts: When a zero-day vulnerability or exploit is detected, the AI Security Engine will automatically alert the affected employees with instructions on how to quickly remediate the issue. This can help prevent the vulnerability from being exploited and reduce the risk of damage to the network or data.

  • Continuous Updates: Lockwell's AI Security Engine is constantly updating its security protocols and staying up-to-date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities. This ensures that the small business's network is always protected against the latest threats, including zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits.

Wrapping Up

Overall, Lockwell provides a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity that can help small businesses stay ahead of potential zero-day vulnerabilities and exploits. By monitoring the network in real-time, providing automatic alerts, and staying up-to-date on the latest threats, Lockwell can help small businesses reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and protect their valuable data.