Zero-Day Exploit Protection: 5 Steps to Take Right Now

December 3, 2020

Spear phishing, targeted attacks, zero-day exploits… No matter what you call them, these are the worst, most harmful cyberattacks out there. Zero-day exploits can cause causing bankruptcy, loss of credibility, and other serious damage. And when it comes to protecting your organization from such attacks, many fall short in terms of technology or rely on outdated processes. Waiting around for detection-based solutions to identify zero-day exploits will not save your organization from the possible damage that can be done, you need something stronger.   

Even if you’re quite confident in the technology you have and the processes you’ve put in place, there are still some steps that you can take to ensure that your organization stays as safe as can be. Keep reading to learn more about zero-day exploit protection and the tactics you can get started with straight away.

What Are Zero-Day Exploits?

Before we dive into how your organization can increase security and stay protected, let’s define what zero-day exploits are. 

Zero-day exploits are an umbrella term for attacks that hackers carry out by capitalizing on recently discovered vulnerabilities. 

The “zero-day” component of the term refers to the fact that the vendor is made aware of this attack on the day it occurred. These particular attacks are especially harmful to an organization because only the hacker knows of their existence, leaving the vendor little to no time to remediate.

Essentially, these types of attacks are swift and hugely damaging, which is why you need to know how to protect your network to the best of your abilities. Let’s dive into the steps you can take to protect your business.

1. Train Your Employees

At the end of the day, you and your team are the last line of defense. No matter how good your security is, one employee can unintentionally bring down your entire network with one careless mistake. It can be a simple phishing email or, more worrying, a targeted attack. This is why consistent, continuous training for your employees is crucial.

When you train your employees on cybersecurity, you are giving them the tools they need to protect themselves and your company. Online seminars, team activities, cyber-safety questionnaires, and many other tools are available to help you train your staff. You should aim to educate on these issues at least once per month, if not bi-weekly, to stay up to date with the latest threats.

2. Stay Well Informed 

New attacks are discovered every day, but even worse, hackers keep developing new evasion techniques to bypass your security measures. While you might have a team of experts dedicated to cybersecurity — or even just one employee — it is important to make sure that you are up to date on industry news. There are many forums, blogs, websites, and newsletters that will keep you on your toes when it comes to cybersecurity innovations.

And when you and your employees partake in your own research, the necessary alarm bells will go off much sooner in the event of an attack. 

3. Be Aware of Social Media

This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it is critical that you watch what you post on social media. Months before a targeted attack is deployed, a team of highly trained hackers plans and designs the attack. To increase the odds that a zero-day exploit is successful, hackers use spear-phishing tactics: persuasive methods that cause a specific user to open the infected email message and click the attachment. 

Of course, you probably wouldn’t open an attachment if the email message said, “Dear friend, please look at these files.” Attackers understand this degree of caution and therefore meticulously gather information on their target to make sure that the person will open the attachment. Most of the information that attackers gather is from social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. 

One way to help remedy this situation is to go over your Friends list and see who you may not recognize. If there is anyone you’re connected with who you don’t know, it is best to remove them before any personal information is potentially used against you. 

 4. Continuously Update

A zero-day exploit focuses on a vulnerability within an application that allows an attacker to infiltrate your system and deploy malware. When a vendor realizes that the application has a vulnerability, the vendor will work on a patch to fix it. Then it’s your turn to update your software to the latest version so that the patch will be installed in your system and will neutralize the effects of the vulnerability.

When it comes to protecting your organization from zero-day exploits, this step is absolutely critical. Continuous updates increase your network’s protection, lowering the likelihood of a full attack.

5. Choose the Right Tool

Finally, one of the best steps you can take to help ensure zero-day exploit protection is to simply choose the right tool for the job. You’ve spent so much money on your business, not counting the hours and hours that you put in to make it a success. Of course, when it came to protecting your network, you installed a state‑of‑the‑art firewall and numerous countermeasures. But did you put in the type of protection that is suitable for combating each kind of threat? 

Most companies know that they cannot rely on just a single or even dual security platform. Several tools must be combined to ensure complete protection. There are many threats out there, and you need to know which tool can keep you safe from which threat. A platform that specializes in antivirus protection most likely will not safeguard your company from targeted attacks and zero‑day exploits.

How Votiro Can Support Your Zero-Day Exploit Protection Efforts

Here at Votiro, our goal is to ensure a zero-day exploit never has the opportunity to enter your network. Our Secure File Gateway (SFG) is designed to sanitize files of hidden malware before they ever reach your inbox, providing users with full security to upload, download, or transfer. Combined with the steps above, implementing an SFG into your organization provides a strong safety net that catches what makes it past your existing detection-based solution that are unable to prevent zero-day exploits. With the level of sophistication we are seeing in today’s attacks, having that peace of mind will go a long way.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Votiro can support your strategy, schedule a demo with us. There, you will be able to see first-hand how our SFG works, and if it is the right fit for your business. And if you’d prefer to speak to a member of our team directly, feel free to contact us today!