Essay: Zero Day Attacks and Penetration Testing

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Zero day attacks can be defined as an attack in which the perpetrator targets unknown threats and weaknesses. These threats or weaknesses can be expected to exist in many forms for any given platform or system. Attackers generally abuse an unknown vulnerability in some general applications, such as any usual back-office application, thus compromising the system until some available patch is developed.

While this can sometimes take a lot of time to resolve, it can take simply one ill-intending attacker to compromise their intended targets by taking advantage of an unknown vulnerability. This unpredictability makes zero day attacks a significant threat to information systems anywhere in the world.

Just as with any other kind of attack, zero-day attacks also depend on system type, environment, level of security, etc.

Zero Day Attacks

Zero day attacks can also be similar to insider threats regarding security planning. The first similarity is that an insider threat could materialize in the form of an employee with malicious intent.

Now, there is no guaranteed way an insider threat can be expected to take shape. This unpredictable and always-changing nature of insider threats makes them very similar to zero-day attacks because zero-day attacks also do not take anyone’s pre-determined shape or direction, which could be predicted or planned for in terms of security.

Penetration Testing

Penetration Testing is a method that provides clues for potential zero-day attacks. It implies analyzing a particular system to determine its vulnerabilities, potential exploits, and areas that could serve as a target for attackers to compromise to reverse their effects before deployment.

This method can also be used when forming a plan for overall security. Penetration testing is not thorough enough to identify all possible potential zero-day attacks because of the respective natures of the process and the attack.

This testing method makes certain vulnerabilities and potential areas that could be exploited known, but zero-day attacks involve zero-day threats that are unknown to us.