Zero-Day Attacks And Why Patching Means Catching Up

Another day another Zero-Day Attack:  From Sucuri Blog¹ which found a remote Code Execution attack on Joomla a CMS(Content Management System) software

The hackers are interested in these all the time:


Because a Zero-day attack means that an attack on susceptible software can be easily taken over.

Zero day exploits are sought after in the darknet.  Check one of our old posts on Darknet.  The International Institute of Cybersecurity also has a good primer on Darknet² with actual places to try using Tor (The Onion Router) which is a browser that keeps you anonymous although has definite dangers when using it.



If you notice from above image (from an image at there are 1day exploits as well. which means the fixes have been in the market for a single day already.

When your IT department asks you to install patches and reboot they are asking you to get a fix for a potential attack.

What kind of attack depends on the severity and danger of the software flaw.

There is a Common Vulnerability Scoring System discussed at first.org³

The severity is set from 0 – 10 (Zero through ten). With 10 a severe vulnerability which requires a fix As Soon As Practical.


Here are just some of the hundreds of vulnerabilities in



The problem that we have is that software is not just the operating system, it is all the applications that run on top of the operating system.


You can see that over the years there have been 73 thousand plus vulnerabilities.

And most disturbing over ten thousand are in the 9-10 severity range.


This is why many in the Cybersecurity field claim that the offense is winning and the defense is always playing catch up.


As the exploits come out they are called Zero-days, the attackers attack sometimes by buying the exploit  from the Internet Darknet. There is a constant fight between the defense which is patching and fixing against potential attacks and the attacker which is always trying to infect your computer with new methods.

This dance between offense and defense will never change(unless we just don’t want to use our computers period). So all we can do is develop risk analysis and put most of our resources into ensuring the most important systems are patched.


Some time ago Microsoft decided to create a single day which would have most of their patches available. This is called Patch Tuesday, and this Month’s patch Tuesday was on December 8th.  Like krebsonsecurity discussed, Adobe and Microsoft plugged over 70 security issues.

Internet Explorer had 30 security flaws

Microsoft Edge had 15 (the new Internet Explorer)

Adobe Flash player had 78 vulnerabilities.


Are you running Windows Server DNS services? there is a patch for that as well which is dangerous, especially since it is on critical servers usually. Although the DNS patch is rated a 2 I am in the belief that the hacker will take any in to your network and then slowly move laterally to other weak systems until getting to the areas which are the true targets.


How important is your server?

How important is your database information?


If you have a severity level 10 vulnerability and its impact is high(if your software fails) because of an important software on this machine then decision is easy patch as soon as practical. In fact don’t patch other systems, and you should patch the higher risk machine.


Are we going to run into a resource allocation problem?.  Sure the highest impact system will get patched sooner than others.


The other problem we have is sometimes the patch that is installed has problems so we now have to pick from either of two bad outcomes.

1 is an unpatched system that is susceptible to attacks

2 is a system that is patched but has some kind of bug which means the software will not work as advertised.

We also have a problem when the pace of patching is not fast enough, since tests have to be run before patching (to prevent catastrophic problems).

So the problem is between lack of resources of patching and the attackers finding an attack vector on your machines.


Contact Us in Saint Louis Area to help you with risk analysis and more.











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