What is a zero-day vulnerability?
Software is never immune from piracy. Software can be developed to be more difficult to hack, but unless the software itself evolves, through active development, it will eventually succumb to a hacking tool or technique. This is true for the applications that you run on your desktop or mobile device, and also for the operating systems that run on these devices.
Zero day vulnerability
Security flaws are discovered in applications and operating systems all the time, but zero-day vulnerabilities tend to cause the most alarm. A zero-day exploit is basically a flaw or vulnerability in an application or operating system that is present in the current version, in active use. It is cause for alarm because the software is already in use on hundreds, if not thousands of systems with the vulnerability there.
All hackers need to do is find a system running the application or operating system with the vulnerability and exploit it.
Fixing a zero-day vulnerability
A zero-day vulnerability must first be discovered before it can be fixed. Typically, the vulnerability will have to be exploited before it is discovered, making it even more dangerous. The app maker can find out on their own if found by an ethical hacker, but they are more likely to find out after a small or large-scale security breach.
Once discovered, a patch must be released for the affected software. This means that you will have to wait for the developer of an application or operating system to fix the problem and release it through an application or operating system update. The update must be installed to correct the vulnerability. If you don’t install it, your system remains at risk.
What can you do?
Generally speaking, there is little that an end user can do if they are using an application or operating system with a zero-day vulnerability. If the app is expendable, you can stop using it until there is a patch for it. In such a case, it is much more difficult to abandon an operating system. You should be on the lookout for updates that are released and regularly install security patches when they become available.
Unfortunately, in this case, an antivirus application may not be of much use. If you are using a vulnerable application, your antivirus may contain the damage, but if your operating system has a vulnerability, your antivirus may not be of much use.
A zero-day vulnerability can appear in any application, but once it has been exploited, it can be used to gain access to other applications. For example, if your browser has a zero-day vulnerability, hackers can exploit it and gain access to files on your hard drive. This is why it is always a good idea to use up-to-date and actively developing applications. If a problem is discovered, it will be fixed quickly before data is lost.