You kept your antivirus software up-to-date. You had a firewall in place. Your employees went through all necessary cybersecurity awareness training.
And yet, your company still experienced a security incident. Now, you’re left wondering—what is a zero-day exploit (and how did it get past my cyber defenses)?
Don’t just chalk an attack up to bad luck. With the right tools, you can defend against zero-day exploits and keep your business protected.
Understanding Zero-Day Exploits
A zero-day exploit is an attack that targets a new, unknown weakness in software. Because the vulnerability is unknown, your software and security solutions won’t be patched in time to stop an attacker from capturing the low-hanging fruit.
Studies have shown that zero-day exploits account for 30% of all malware. Sophisticated attackers know that companies and software providers are more vigilant than ever in identifying and patching vulnerabilities. But with a zero-day exploit, none of that vigilance matters.
Even if a vulnerability is spotted and reported quickly, cyber attackers can launch threats faster than patches are released. And it only takes one successful zero-day exploit to compromise your entire network.
The problem is that the market for zero-day exploits is self-sustaining. Attackers that discover coding vulnerabilities can develop zero-day exploits and sell them for as much as $250,000—either to other attackers, state-sponsored actors, or software vendors.
While staying on top of software patching is an essential factor in defending against zero-day exploits, it’s not enough. To protect your network against zero-day threats, you need antivirus that goes beyond traditional capabilities.
Real-Time Protection Against Zero-Day Exploits
Traditional antivirus software falls short against zero-day exploits because they’re signature-based. When new viruses are discovered, your antivirus vendor codes a signature to protect against it. Then, when that signature is scanned later, the virus is blocked from getting into your network.
By definition, zero-day exploits are dangerous because your antivirus software doesn’t have signatures in place to identify them. Until the vulnerability is identified and patched, zero-day exploits can get through traditional antivirus software undetected.
That’s why real-time protection is essential to modern antivirus software. Even the most basic programs today should have on-demand scanning and real-time protection to address zero-day threats before they can compromise your network.
Even though every antivirus vendor knows the dangers of zero-day exploits, not all software is created equal when it comes to defending against them. Any time you’re evaluating antivirus software, you can’t forget to include a careful examination of zero-day exploit protection.
But finding the right antivirus software (and zero-day exploit protection) can be easier said than done. That’s why we put together our guide to the best antivirus programs of 2019.