Malwares attack, in form of virus infestation, trojans, ransomware and others, are very popular. And if you are a type of user, that like using out-of-date programs, you are exposing yourself to a new form of malware attack known as Zero-Day Attack.
The Concept of Vulnerability.
Every program you installed in your computer is made of programing codes. Depending on the program you are using, the developer has to write million upon millions of codes before the program can do what it promises to do.
During the coding process, developers are bound to make mistakes. These mistakes, in most cases do not affect the smooth running of the program, hence, they are difficult to spot and fix. In such cases, these mistakes are known as bugs, or glitches.
Vulnerabilities are from Bugs.
Like I said, developers are not perfect, so, virtually all programs, has bugs.
But the good news is, not all bugs can be exploited by a hacker. When a bug become exploitable, then, it is no longer consider as a bug, but a vulnerability.
Vulnerability is a mistake (bug) in a program, that can be exploited by a third-party (usually, hackers) so as to cause damage to the users of the program.
What Happens When a Vulnerability is Discovered?
What happened when a vulnerability is discovered is mainly dependent on who discovered the vulnerability.
Discovered by the Good Guys.
If the vulnerability in a program is discovered by a good guy (usually, an ethical hacker or a bounty hunter), they will notify the developer of the program, and ask them to fix it.
As an incentive for the developer to make fixing the vulnerability a priority, they will give the developer a deadline. For example, they might give a developer 30 day to fix the vulnerability, else, they will make it a public knowledge.
Discovered by the Bad Guys.
If the vulnerability is discovered by bad guys (usually, black hat hackers, or competitors that wants to destroy the reputation of the program developer), they will start exploiting the vulnerability right away. By creating virus, and other malwares.
They will do this without notifying the developer of the program, or other antivirus agency. They do this, so as to delay the fixing of the vulnerability.
The Concept of Zero-Day Attack
From the explanation above, you will notice that, when a vulnerability is discovered by the good guys, the program developers are given a time frame for fixing the problem.
But when it is discovered by the bad guys, developers are not given any time frame. The bad guy will start attacking users of the program with the vulnerability as soon as possible. It is this situation that is known as Zero-Day Attack.
In other words, Zero-Day attack is an attack whereby the person that discovered a vulnerability in a program starts attacking users of the program without giving the developer a time frame (deadline) for fixing the vulnerability.
Can my Antivirus Software Pick-up a Zero-Day Attack Virus?
This is because, the developer of the Antivirus software is also not aware that such a vulnerability exists. Hence, the antivirus software will see the virus exploiting the vulnerability, but since it is not yet a public knowledge that the program has such a problem (vulnerability) the antivirus software with think that the virus is like third-party add-ons to the program. So, they will not do anything to stop the work of the virus.
The Good News
However, because, antivirus software developers spend a lot of time in the security community (hackers community), they are in a better position to know of when a vulnerability in a program has be discovered faster than the developer of the program.
When they come to the knowledge that a vulnerability exists, the antivirus developer will update their antivirus software so that when it sees anything trying to access the program through the vulnerability, then it will be classified as a malware (virus, trojan, ransomware, or others), and it will be stopped, and in most cases removed from the computer.
What You Should do When You Notice you are Experiencing a Zero-Day Attack
Restore your Computer.
When you start noticing that your computer might be under attack and your antivirus software is not picking up any issue with your device, then it could be that you are under a Zero-day attack.
In this event, your best option is to restore your computer, to an earlier state. That is, before you start noticing the attack. When it comes to restoring your computer to an earlier state, you have 2 options.
OPTION 1: Restore from a Backup File
Using System Image backup feature to backup your computer regularly is not a waste of external drive. It is you, planning for an uncertain event like, Zero-day attack.
Restoring your computer with a system image backup can cause you to lose your current file, but it is worth it.
Alternatively, you can create a regular backup of the current file and programs of your computer, on a separate disk. Then after you have restored your computer with the system image backup, then you can start moving the recent files from the other backup drive to your computer. Do the moving one-by-one so as to know which has been corrupted by the Zero-day attack virus.
OPTION 2: System Restore Point
If you do not have a system image backup you can restore your computer with, then, you can do the reverting using System Restore Point.
Using System Restore Point is not a guarantee to fix the problem, but it is not a bad option.
Apart from restoring your computer to an earlier state, another great thing you should do is to update your programs, especially your antivirus, and then your device OS. In some cases, you need to keep updating your programs.
I know, keeping your programs up-to-date can be data intensive, but the fact is, among those new updates is one that has fixed the vulnerability that is causing you to experience zero-day attack.
To be sure, develop a habit of reading the release note that comes with every program updates. The release note will tell you every new feature they have added, and the bugs (vulnerabilities) that is fixed with that new update.
If keeping all your programs up-to-date does not sound like a fit you can achieve, then at least, always keep your antivirus software up-to-date. This because, in most cases, antivirus software developers are the first respondents, that protects users from Zero-day attacks.
Preventing Zero-Day Attack
The easiest way to prevent yourself from being victim of a Zero-day attack is to always verify the trustworthiness of source of anything you are about to put on your computer.
Whether it is a file from a drive of your friend, an attachment from an email, a program/file you are about to download from the internet, always make sure that the source is from someone (or a developer) you can trust.
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