Software vulnerabilities are super common. Generally they get fixed through patches, but what about the ones that get compromised first? They are zero day exploits and this is what that means.
What is a zero day exploit?
The term ‘zero day’ is used to describe a new software vulnerability. It means that it has just been discovered and there is no patch or fix for it yet.
This is important because it leaves the software particularly vulnerable to being exploited by a hacker or bad actor.
So ‘zero day’ essentially means that the software developers have ‘zero days’ to fix the issue. The term reflects the urgency of the situation, because the last thing they want is for the vulnerability to be taken advantage of.
If a patch isn’t released before someone manages to exploit the security flaw, it’s referred to as a ‘zero day exploit’ or ‘zero day attack’.
Can I protect my devices against one?
This is tricky because oftentimes a zero day vulnerability won’t be public. At least not in the mainstream, anyway.
On top of that, potential attacks will differ from software to software. So there’s no general ‘fix’ here, particularly before a patch is released.
But there are a few things you can do to to help your security hygiene in general.
Firstly, make sure software you use on your computer, phone and tablet are up to date. Oftentimes hackers are able to access systems and data through people using older versions of software.
We’d also recommend periodically checking Have I Been Pwned to see if your email address (which you probably use to sign up for a lot of websites and apps) has been compromised at any point.
It also helps to stay informed about security issues in general. After all, we use our devices for basically everything. If they get compromised so do our entire lives. Having some knowledge of just how big and frequent security threats are isn’t a bad thing.
Lastly, for goodness sake, stop saving your passwords to your browser.