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Zero-Day Attacks Cause Trouble for Organizations

Businesses that are equipped with emergency patches for systems are not only capable of taking action against computer security threats but are also in favorable circumstances to deal with zero-day attacks, according to a study by PatchLink Corporation.

The study pointed out the most critical challenge that businesses encounter in fighting zero-day attacks is the lack of effective control on user activity together with the rapid speed of attacks.

In a survey that PatchLink conducted on 250 customers around the world in June 2007, 53% considered zero-day flaws as the top security threat with hackers' threats following at 35%, and spyware and malware at 34%. The respondents in the survey included CSOs, CIOs, IT managers and directors.

The capabilities of zero-day attacks pose some trouble for companies. Today, attackers with financial motives are creating sophisticated malicious codes that they use to exploit unknown vulnerabilities in applications before the flaws can be patched, said Charles Kolodgy, research director for security products at IDC in Flamingham. Darkreading published this in news on July 30, 2007.

One very conspicuous piece of such zero-day threats was the MyDoom worm, which was disseminated in 2004 through infected e-mails and had grown to be the most rapidly spreading worm.

The PatchLink survey also showed that information technology managers responded much faster with emergency fixes in 2007 than in 2006. 29% of the companies installed critical updates in just two hours against only 14% in 2006, and 70% deployed free-drill patch solutions in eight hours during 2007 while that figure was only 39% in 2006.

A number of reports on Internet security threats in the past also revealed a rising trend in Web-based attacks targeting browsers and applications. These attacks served to acquire unauthorized access to business networks.

Many times, the Web vulnerabilities are exploited to launch attacks at the gateway, initially to acquire a foothold and subsequently launch more malicious attacks to breach data, said Symantec's latest Internet Security Threat Report. So with the flaws in Web applications and web browsers, attackers are able to plant malware on a hijacked system and then control that system.

Related article: Zero-day Flaw in Internet Explorer Revealed

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