By their very nature, zero-day attacks give threat actors the upper hand, enabling them to target systems they suspect are vulnerable. But these attacks can be prevented with measures that help identify zero-day threats, narrow the exposure window, and apply patches before any damage is done.
Even tech giants can find themselves exposed to zero-day threats, as witnessed by Apple’s recent macOS updates to patch a zero-day vulnerability that took screenshots of users desktops. Here are three steps to take to ensure you are protected.
1. Maintain comprehensive visibility
Today’s dynamic environments, and particularly the shift to remote working has provided attackers with ample opportunities to slip into networks unnoticed, meaning that defending against zero-day attacks needs comprehensive visibility into the network.
It’s vital to know where all assets are and how they normally work to be able to identify any abnormal activity that could be the early signs of an attack. Continue to monitor endpoints, SaaS and cloud services, and customs web apps to look for potential vulnerabilities and threats.
2. Check vulnerability advisory feeds
Cybersecurity professionals, like seasoned detectives, always keep their ear to the ground for the whisper of evolving cyberthreats. It can be a full-time job to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving world of cybersecurity, but these professionals know the strategies to cut through the noise and get the right information.
Make a habit of checking vulnerability alert and advisory feeds on sites such as the NCSC’s Early Warning Service.
Following security insiders and security-related topics on social media is another way to stay informed. For example, Twitter makes it easy to follow real-time discussions about current cybersecurity, thanks to hashtags for trending topics.
3. Have a patch management plan
It’s important to coordinate a patch management plan with your IT service, development and security teams. This will enable the quick patching of critical systems once vendors release fixes for the zero-day vulnerability.
Patch management is a process many organisations struggle with. Applying patches in complex modern environments can sometimes have unintended effects, such as slowing down hardware, disabling systems or hampering business operations.
Patches also take significant time and resources, as staff must test and deploy patches and reboot systems to complete the implementation. Automated patch management can help mitigate these issues.
These products download patches from vendors, scan the environment for missing patches, test the changes introduced by the patch, automatically deploy the patches and report on the status of the patch management process.
Patch management can’t prevent zero-day attacks, but it can reduce exposure to them. Software vendors may issue a patch for a severe vulnerability within hours or days of its publishing. An effective patch management plan will help security teams deploy patches before attackers can exploit the vulnerability and compromise systems.
Only large enterprises would typically have the in-house resources to be able to mount an effective defence against zero-day threats. Small and medium enterprises can still get the expert help and protection they need with outsourced cyber security monitoring services. Talk to us today for more information.