Attack Vector: Zero Days Open for 10 Months

Monday, October 29, 2012 @ 02:10 PM gHale

It really can pay for a user to stay in tune with the system he is trying to protect because hackers exploit security vulnerabilities in software for 10 months on average before details of the holes surface in public, a new study said.

These Zero Day attacks are more prevalent and more potent than previously thought, said researchers at Symantec, which conducted the study.

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Zero Day exploits are often closely guarded secrets that are valuable commodities to cyber bad guys, but once details of the exploited flaws emerge in public, white hats can scramble to mitigate or halt the attacks. One other issue is once the exploit becomes known, other cyber crooks are aware the holes exist.

Leyla Bilge and Tudor Dumitras, both of Symantec Research Labs, identified 18 Zero Day attacks between 2008 and 2011, and 11 of them went previously undetected.

“A typical Zero Day attack lasts 312 days on average and that, after vulnerabilities are disclosed publicly, the volume of attacks exploiting them increases by up to five orders of magnitude,” the researchers said.

The two researches based their study on data from customers who had opted into Symantec’s anti-virus telemetry service.

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