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Ransomware Groups Increasing Zero-Day Exploit-Based Access Methods


In recent years, digital transformations have taken the world by storm. From cryptocurrency to remote work, these advances bring their own set of cybersecurity risks that must be addressed. Since 2020, organizations across domains have suffered over 600 million ransomware attacks. Ransomware attacks are causing massive disruption and losses for businesses worldwide, with the emergence of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) especially concerning. Even novice cybercriminals can pay a fee to access this sophisticated service, making ransomware and zero-day exploit methods one of the most serious cybersecurity threats in 2023.

What are zero-day exploit-based access methods?

Companies can unknowingly be vulnerable to a zero-day exploit, which takes advantage of an unpatched or undiscovered vulnerability in software or hardware. Unfortunately for the organizations affected by these exploits, the vendors have yet to recognize and provide protective patches against them.

Ransomware groups have started using zero-day exploit-based access methods more frequently because these vulnerabilities are more challenging for organizations. An attacker can use a zero-day exploit to gain unauthorized access to a system, steal sensitive information, or spread malware. These exploits are dangerous because they can target vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered or addressed by security professionals.

The rise in zero-day exploit-based attacks

Reports suggest that 80% of malware attacks are zero-day attacks. Many high-impact attacks resulted from zero-day exploits, including the Wannacry attack that affected thousands of organizations worldwide, causing significant disruption and financial losses.

Even large enterprises are not immune to zero-day exploit attacks. Since 2020, the increased use of digital media and the rise in remote work has made Zoom a target through zero-day exploits. Apple, too, faced two sets of zero-day bugs that saw attackers compromising iPhones remotely. In 2021, technological giants like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Cisco, Google Cloud, and IBM became victims of Log4j vulnerability in an open-source logging library. Google Chrome also faced a series of zero-day threats in the same year.

Earlier last year, a critical Zero-day vulnerability was discovered in Microsoft Word. In November last year, Microsoft confirmed four zero-day attacks. It urged users to update their Windows software with upgraded patches. Recently the zero-day exploit-based ransomware attack on the cloud service provider Rackspace grabbed the headlines.

What makes zero-day vulnerabilities a desirable target for hackers?

Zero-day vulnerabilities are unknown and unpatched, making them valuable and attractive to attackers. Since they are unknown to the vendor or developer, attackers can use them to compromise systems and steal sensitive information without detection. What's more, zero-day vulnerabilities can bypass security measures you may have in place, like firewalls or antivirus. This makes them incredibly effective at infiltrating a network.

With the increasing sophistication of attackers, there is a growing market for zero-day vulnerabilities, as attackers can sell them on the black market for lucrative returns. These vulnerabilities can be used to create more effective malware and exploit kits, making them a valuable commodity for cybercriminals. The use of RaaS has increased, and attackers can use zero-day vulnerabilities to deploy the malware or hold the data for ransom.

With all these factors, hackers are interested in zero-day vulnerabilities more than ever. To combat this risk of attacks, companies should remain alert and adopt proactive measures like upgrading systems and software constantly and introducing strong security measures to protect their system from any malicious activity.

6 Preventative measures

While it is difficult to prevent a zero-day exploit attack entirely, there are certain measures that organizations can take to reduce the risk of such attacks:

  1. conduct regular penetration tests to help identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited

  2. Regularly update software and systems with the latest patches as soon as they become available

  3. Have an incident response plan and ensure your team is trained and ready to respond. 

  4. Introduce strict access controls

  5. Monitor malicious activity on all platforms

  6. Implement multiple layers of security, such as firewalls, antivirus

Final thoughts

Handling zero-day vulnerabilities can be challenging, as they are unknown and unpatched. However, organizations can reduce their risk of a zero-day exploit attack by taking a proactive approach to security and preparing for potential attacks.

At Packetlabs, we offer advanced penetration testing services that go beyond industry standards. With cutting-edge tools, technologies, and advanced expertise, our penetration tests go beyond testing for known vulnerabilities. Our testers mimic what a real-world attacker could do with a zero-day exploit and issue actionable advisories. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help you safeguard against zero-day exploits.

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