Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: Addressing Unknown Security Flaws Before They’re Exploited

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: Addressing Unknown Security Flaws Before They're Exploited

Cyber attacks are on the rise — and they are evolving. 

Zero-day vulnerabilities are flaws on the radar of security researchers, attackers, and businesses. These attacks are on the rise, making businesses dive deeper into what they can do to protect themselves.

Here’s what to consider when developing strategies to detect and respond to zero-day vulnerabilities.

What Are Zero-Day Vulnerabilities?

Zero-day vulnerabilities should be on your radar if you are concerned about potential cyber attacks. 

Zero-day (0-day) vulnerabilities refer to security flaws in hardware and software. Attackers exploit these security holes before developers know they exist, which is what makes them so dangerous. Unlike a known vulnerability, which a developer can proactively patch with updates, there are no existing defenses. 

Hence the name — developers have “zero days” to prepare once an attacker finds the vulnerability. 

While these vulnerabilities typically originate from the development process, often due to coding or design errors, an attacker can also take advantage of reverse engineering. In this case, a cyber attack arises after the attacker dissects the software to find weak areas. 

Strategies When Facing Zero-Day Attacks

As with most cyber attack concerns, the best strategies are based on proactive measures. That would mean staying up-to-date with the latest software and hardware versions, limiting user privilege, educating employees, and hiring the right people.  

However, patching becomes the most critical strategy once a vulnerability is detected. This step reduces the risk of a serious attack while telling potential attackers that developers are consistently improving security, which could be a deterrent. Virtual patching is recommended within any patch management strategy, as are regular updates and investing in training opportunities for cyber security teams. 

On that note, one of the best things you can do to protect your business is to collaborate with vendors and security researchers to address vulnerabilities. Take your time and work with professional cyber security recruiters to ensure you find the best fit. Finding the right person or team for your roles is a vital step. Once you have properly trained people in place, invest in vulnerability management. This ongoing process will help you identify, assess, report on, manage, and remediate vulnerabilities. 

Recommended Reading: Cyber Security: An Oversaturated Market? What Risks Do You Face If You Don’t Find the Right CISO for You?

You Need the Right People and Best Tools to Implement Best Practices

Once you have found an experienced Chief Information Security Officer, you’ll want to develop a cyber security team that knows what steps to take. Implement the right tools, including reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. Having your ducks in a row will ensure the best defenses against the unknown. 

Here are some techniques and practices to consider:

  • Regular scans to identify potential flaws, in addition to monitoring the network. For example, your team may look for unexpected traffic to locate suspicious activity. Continuously invest in your cyber security team to ensure they are on top of the latest threats so they can develop reactive solutions. 
  • The investment in bug bounty programs that encourage cyber security professionals to discover vulnerabilities. You should also encourage the development of threat intelligence, including implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect potential cyber attacks. 
  • If a zero-day vulnerability is detected, a timely patch is the top priority. Again, that is why having the right team is so crucial, as finding an expert to handle this after an incident may be too little, too late. If you do not develop a patch quickly, hackers can easily exploit the security hole.
  • To stay on top of patch management, your security team must be mindful of zero-day vulnerabilities in the wild. CISA offers insights into known exploited vulnerabilities. This resource helps businesses develop a more thorough, targeted vulnerability management prioritization framework.


You will need to take a reactive approach in certain instances, which is why you need skilled cyber security experts on your team. However, maintaining a proactive approach will remain your best defense against zero-day attacks. Whether you need to improve your vulnerability scanning or patch management strategies, now is the time to invest in the best people and tools to help mitigate cyber attacks. 

If you are an employer, MRINetwork can help you find the top people in technology and assist in building a team you can count on. When it comes to cyber security, this is not a process you want to rush. Let us help you find the perfect fit — discover more about MRINetwork’s capabilities today!