What Is a Zero Day Attack?

What Is a Zero Day Attack?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A Zero Day attack refers to a cyber-attack where an unknown vulnerability, flaw, or security weakness in software or a computer system is exploited by a hacker.

The term ‘Zero Day’ highlights that no prior warning or time for preparation is given to the targeted party, as even the system owner isn’t aware of it.

These vulnerabilities are found by cyber researchers and are close-held or even sold to third parties for misuse.

In finance, these attacks can have devastating impacts, targeting operations such as banks and financial institutions, potentially allowing unauthorized transactions, fund theft, and information breaches.

Global computer networks are widely utilized for financial transactions, managing assets, and data storage.

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These activities make the financial industry a lucrative target for cybercriminals.

Upon discovering a Zero Day vulnerability, attackers can use specialized tools to exploit this flaw and access private data, sometimes even opening backdoor functionality to gain further control over the system.

Key Takeaways

  • A Zero Day attack revolves around exploiting an unknown vulnerability, flaw, or security weakness in software or computer systems without giving the target any warning.
  • In finance, Zero Day attacks have devastating consequences as they may result in unauthorized transactions, fund theft, and information breaches.
  • The reliance of financial institutions on global computer networks for assets and data management makes them attractive and vulnerable targets for cybercriminals.
  • Financial sectors need to employ a multilayer defense strategy, continuously update their cybersecurity measures, and remain vigilant against potential Zero Day attacks.

Zero Day Exploits Explained (Video)

Related Questions

1. How is the term Zero Day attack derived?

The term ‘Zero Day’ stems from the amount of warning or time to prepare that the target of the attack has. In a Zero Day attack, no prior warning or signs are given before the cyber-attack takes place, catching the target off-guard.

2. How can financial institutions minimize the impact of Zero Day attacks?

Financial institutions should establish a multilayer defense strategy, regularly update their cybersecurity measures, conduct risk assessments, prioritize patching known vulnerabilities, and invest in employee training and threat intelligence to safeguard against potential Zero Day attacks.

3. How do attackers find weaknesses in target systems?

Attackers may find weaknesses through multiple methods, including researching system and software documentation, reverse engineering, monitoring communication and encryption, searching for exploits on underground forums, or creating their own exploits if skilled enough.

4. What does an attacker do after discovering a vulnerability?

Once an attacker discovers a vulnerability, they may use specialized tools or write their own exploits to take advantage of the flaw, infiltrate the target’s systems, and conduct unauthorized activities like stealing funds, tampering with data, and opening backdoors for future access or control.

5. Are governments and other regulatory bodies taking any measures to combat Zero Day threats in financial institutions?

Yes, government agencies and regulatory bodies are collaborating with the financial industry to strengthen cybersecurity, enforce strict regulations to ensure compliance and share threat intelligence. These measures help protect organizations from cyber threats like Zero Day attacks and their consequences.