Why You Should Take One-day and Zero-day Vulnerabilities Seriously

By PRODAFT Team on October 23, 2023
Why You Should Take One-day and Zero-day Vulnerabilities Seriously

Enter the World of Zero-day and One-day Vulnerabilities

It’s 2023, and businesses are dealing with critical security challenges, like flawed software and rising cyberattacks that impact their IT infrastructure. In the realm of cybersecurity, one-day and zero-day vulnerabilities have become major concerns for companies.

 Let’s dive into basic differences, consequences, and ways to deal with zero-day and one-day vulnerabilities:


Fundamental Differences Between Zero-Day and One-Day Vulnerabilities

Zero-day vulnerabilities refer to a software exploit or bug that requires patching. Hackers often take advantage of these bugs and steal sensitive information before you can realize and recognize an issue that needs patching.

Zero-day vulnerabilities manifest in more than one form and often turn into serious software vulnerabilities. Zero-day vulnerabilities pop up in the form of SQL injection, missing authorization, missing data encryption, and buffer overflows. Additionally, zero-day vulnerabilities can come as URL redirects, password security issues, and broken algorithms.

After identifying issues in hardware and software, there has to be immediate remediation. With a patch, developers fix the problem, and this works as a countermeasure to neutralize the threat. However, developers are not always successful at identifying flaws.

The reality is that even when IT teams or developers identify the issue – there’s usually a lack of immediacy to address the problem. And it’s what’s common as zero-day vulnerability. Typically, developers use this term to indicate that they’ve had no time, as in zero-day, to resolve the issue before cybercriminals act on it. The critical element is time, which requires developers to release a patch.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are more dangerous and commonly targeted and exploited. Conversely, one-day vulnerabilities involve issues that security teams identify but haven’t patched for a day. One-day vulnerabilities have a small timeframe and don’t give too much time to cybercriminals to exploit before patch release.

Examples of One-day and Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

The most severe one-day vulnerability example is the Equifax data breach. It exposed terabytes of sensitive data. The credit reporting company experienced a huge data breach that put over 145 million people’s personal information at risk.

The data breach essentially exploited the Apache framework, which is a famous web application tool. And things got worse when Equifax didn’t patch this one-day vulnerability, even though the patch had been available for more than two months prior to the attack.

In the case of zero-day attacks, the Microsoft Office breach made a lot of headlines back in 2017. Specifically, it exposed MS Office rich text format documents and allowed threat actors to execute visual scripts with PowerShell commands.

Microsoft also faced another zero-day data exploitation that came with encapsulated PostScript that dissuaded the platform from identifying, alerting, and addressing malware infections. Speaking of famous and notorious zero-day attacks, Sony also makes the list. The company became a direct victim of an exploit back in 2014. It compromised Sony’s entire IT network and infrastructure and led to severe data breaches. Before the company knew it, movies in production got posted on different file-sharing sites.

The leaked data also involved a lot of information about new films, the email addresses of Sony executives, and the company’s core business strategies.

Why Zero-days Are More Dangerous Than One-days

Zero-day vulnerabilities are far more severe than one-day vulnerabilities. In fact, cybercriminals use white and black markets to share zero-day vulnerability data without official disclosure. It also makes zero-day vulnerabilities more challenging to address and usually requires proactive efforts.

However, zero-day vulnerabilities are not as easy to find as one-day vulnerabilities. If threat actors find out about a zero-day vulnerability, it takes them time to design and execute an attack. Simultaneously, security teams hope to develop and deploy the patch as soon as it is available.

When it comes to zero-day and one-day vulnerabilities, it’s more than just semantics. For starters, zero-day vulnerabilities are more serious because of their underlying damage in the long run.

When developers have no idea about such vulnerabilities, there’s nothing standing against attacks, and malicious actors take advantage of it. Today, zero-day vulnerabilities have become highly persistent and advanced and can involve state-sponsored efforts that launch and exploit threats to infiltrate targets.

To deal with a zero-day vulnerability, developers need sufficient time to get down to the bottom of the vulnerability and create a patch. It can involve a lot of complications and usually takes significant time.

Key Reasons Zero-Day Vulnerabilities are Not Patched Quickly

Zero-day vulnerabilities are usually too complex and involve a lot of elements, which makes it difficult to patch them in a prompt fashion. Similarly, zero-day vulnerabilities don’t get patched fast enough because companies consistently deal with time constraints and lack of resources.

Also, lack of awareness often keeps companies in the dark until security experts take action and it’s too late. Additionally, lack of coordination and ineffective testing are reasons zero-day vulnerabilities aren’t patched promptly. And that’s because patching this type of vulnerability involves a meticulous process, and before security teams can take action – there’s already some damage done.

Other reasons zero-day vulnerabilities don’t get patched quickly involve maintaining competitive advantage and users’ impact where businesses don’t want to disrupt the flow of access and information. Delays in vendor communication are also major reasons zero-day vulnerabilities don’t get patched faster.

Consequences of Unpatched Vulnerabilities on Businesses

Unpatched vulnerabilities have long-term consequences for businesses. Those involve lawsuits, a tarnished image, financial losses, and data breaches. There have been many cases where it took companies years to regain the trust of their users and recover financial losses.

Additionally, exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities is rampant and often leads to disasters. In fact, cybercriminals have become more cunning and constantly find new ways to gain unauthorized access to systems with sensitive information. Consequently, they disrupt critical operations. After serious breaches, companies usually run a comprehensive forensic analysis, address regulatory compliance issues, and continue data recovery efforts.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s zero-day or one-day vulnerability, both act as entry points to bring in malicious elements to exploit system security and data. From businesses to users, it is crucial to better understand both vulnerabilities so that companies can strengthen their cyber and digital defenses.

Want to keep your systems and software protected? Look out for the latest patches and updates of the systems you use in your business to elevate your defenses.



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