There are vulnerabilities, and then there are flaws. While most software weaknesses will, at worst, result in hardware and software malfunctions, a zero-day exploit may have more significant consequences.
So, what does a zero-day cybersecurity exploit mean? A zero-day exploit is a publicly known vulnerability that hasn’t been patched, and hackers can use it to compromise network security. You can learn more by enrolling in a cybersecurity master’s programme. Developers are also typically unaware of the vulnerability; however, in a few rare instances, they could be ignoring it or might even have purposefully included it. Some zero-day flaws can be too difficult for common crooks to exploit. To sell their zero-day exploit kits, some gangs do just that.
The following examples will show you how threat actors may use zero-day exploits to terrible effect:
1. The worm/rootkit Stuxnet
The first cyberweapon in history is called Stuxnet. The computer worm, widely believed to have been created by the U.S. and Israel, compromised Iran’s nuclear facilities’ uranium enrichment process by taking advantage of zero-day vulnerabilities in their computer systems.
Centrifuges were silently made to malfunction by Stuxnet by changing their speed. To hide its tracks, it also possessed rootkit-like abilities. Although Stuxnet appeared to have been developed solely to interfere with Iran’s nuclear programme, it was soon discovered in the wild. Hackers modified the advanced cyberweapon to attack companies and other targets worldwide.
2.Pegasus is a spyware.
In consumer electronics, Apple’s devices are renowned for their security. Apple maintains strict control over the software and manufacturing procedures for its iPhones, iPads, and other products. As a result, many consumers were shocked to learn that military-grade malware was being used to target their products.
Pegasus, developed by Israeli cyber-arms firm NSO Group, can infect iOS and Android devices. Pegasus exploited a zero-day vulnerability and affected iOS versions up to 14.6 via a zero-click exploit. In essence, a zero-click vulnerability works with minimal to no user input.
Pegasus is capable of many hazardous things. It can monitor locations, read passwords, call records, text messages, view victims using a device’s camera, and listen in on them through a device’s microphone.
State authorities in the Middle East and Africa spied on journalists, activists, and political adversaries using the malware. According to a U.K. court decision, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s agents in the United Arab Emirates used spyware to hack his ex-wife’s phone. Al Maktoum is the president of the UAE and the undisputed ruler of Dubai.
3. The malware WannaCry
Many of the ransomware variants that are now in the news are used by hackers to launch highly targeted assaults on certain companies. However, several ransomware variants, like WannaCry, Petya, NotPetya, and GrandCrab, can spread randomly.
Using a vulnerability, WannaCry spread worldwide in the middle of 2017. According to some analysts, the bug was created by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States and was released into the wild. Before being eventually halted, WannaCry had already caused $4 billion in damage. Interestingly, despite a patch from Microsoft, the strain is still active since many computer users continue to utilise obsolete and unpatched operating systems. It’s crucial that organisations, especially smaller ones, patch their machines and develop defence mechanisms against ransomware assaults.
The damage malware can do to computers, devices, and networks is considerable. It can be far worse if someone exploits a vulnerability that hasn’t been fixed.