What is a Zero-day exploit? An easy-to-understand explanation

What is a Zero-day exploit_ An easy-to-understand explanation

You are always told how to protect your business from hackers, but do you know how they actually break into your system and hack your data?

Zero-day explained

The name zero-day stems from the fact that the hacker has only just learnt a new flaw within a system, and the developers have had “zero days” to fix it. In one type of attack, hackers will sit and learn different security vulnerabilities (loopholes) within systems such as Windows, then use that gap in security to attack and cause chaos.

This is most common within new software because developers will not yet know of all the security flaws and therefore not have a chance to address it before it’s found by a criminal.

How do developers avoid zero-day exploits?

We are always telling you the importance of keeping all software up to date and this is why… Developers are continuously looking for vulnerabilities to catch them before hackers do, then they will “patch” the system and create new updates – this means they have found a solution to that loophole and release an update to protect everyone using their software.


What are a hackers main target using zero-day?

There are many different systems that cybercriminals will target to discover the security vulnerabilities, here are a few you should be aware of:

  • Operating systems – Windows, Linux, Apple (iOS)
  • Web browsers – Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox
  • Office applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint


How does zero-day impact you?

As we mentioned earlier, if you are using a system that is vulnerable and not up to date, such as a web browser, then hackers can target those vulnerabilities and compromise your devise – it’s that easy.

For instance, hackers could gain access to all your personal/business confidential information, they could even lock you out of your systems and demand a random.

Windows Follina Vulnerability

Windows was recently targeted by a zero-day attack called Follina Vulnerability. The flaw was within Microsoft’s Support Diagnostic Tool, hackers were using malicious Word documents to exploit and take control of targeted devices, whether that was to steal data, lock people out of machines, or even worse delete peoples data and accounts. This was a very serious and scary cyber attack that effected many people.

Windows developers then took action to figure out what the issue was and how they could patch it.

At the start of June 2022 Microsoft released a security update addressing the zero-day Follina vulnerability and advised users on the following – “Microsoft strongly recommends that customers install the updates to be fully protected from the vulnerability. Customers whose systems are configured to receive automatic updates do not need to take any further action.” Microsoft’s Security Response Centre proceeded to say, “Microsoft recommends installing the updates as soon as possible”.

You can read more about the Windows Follina vulnerability here.

In summary

Zero-day exploits can have a huge effect on both businesses and individuals alike, the easiest way to avoid being one of those statistics is to ensure all your devices have their software up to date and suitable security measures in place. Feel free to get in contact if you would like to know more about different forms of Cyber Security that can keep you safe – call 01273 806211 or email [email protected].

Alternatively, check out a recent blog we have written to learn about different ways to keep your business safe – How much cyber security does my business need?