Zero-Click Attacks: How Cyberattacks Launch Automatically and Ways SMBs Can Defend Themselves

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Zero-click attacks leverage critical vulnerabilities that allow an attacker to perform malicious activities on a victim’s network or device without any interaction from the user. These are an extremely dangerous form of cyberattack because users do not have to click a malicious link or download an attachment to give the attack entry into the network. Without any interaction necessary, zero-click attacks can be difficult to detect and often steal information or damage a network before anyone realizes the attack is happening. SMBs can be surprised by a zero-click attack, but they aren’t defenseless, so we want to go explain how a zero-click attack works and what businesses can do to defend themselves!

How a Zero-Click Attack Works

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A zero-click attack can target a company device, networking equipment, cloud service, or almost any device or service a business uses on its network. These attacks will leverage misconfigurations, data verification loopholes, and unpatched exploits to infect the network with malware or steal sensitive data. For example, an attacker could exploit an unpatched communication app on an employee’s work phone by sending a specially crafted message that forces the application to execute malicious code and begin an attack even if the user doesn’t open the message. Each zero-click attack will vary in terms of delivery and execution, but they typically take advantage of zero-day exploits and leave behind little evidence that they occurred.

Attack Strategies

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Generally, hackers will target high-value businesses with a zero-click attack as part of a targeted campaign. However, this does not mean that SMBs have nothing to worry about. These attacks leverage exploits that SMBs are frequently vulnerable to. Malicious actors tend to have success targeting mobile devices, such as smart phones, because mobile devices use communication applications and SMS messaging, which are commonly exploited vectors for zero-click attacks. For businesses that use a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, social media apps can be targeted by attackers, and they sometimes hunt for businesses that have not implemented patches that mitigate exploits used in a zero-click attack.

Mitigation Strategies

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Due to the fact that zero-click attacks do not require action on an employee’s part to execute, SMBs can do little to mitigate individual attacks that successfully target the business. However, with the right security policies and cybersecurity training, SMBs can make it more difficult for an attack to be launched against them. For example, patching devices and applications regularly can mitigate many zero-click attacks before attackers start using them on smaller businesses instead of high-value targets. Businesses can also implement layered security to have a next-generation firewall, endpoint protection, and multifactor authentication keeping their accounts and network more secure from malicious activity.

Summary

Zero-click attacks can launch malware or steal company data without any interaction from a user. These attacks are usually targeted towards high-value, specialized targets, but SMBs can find themselves the victim of an attack if they do not patch regularly or follow cybersecurity best practices. Businesses that operate in high-value sectors, such as the government or healthcare, should work with an IT consultant to better secure their network from attacks. Robinett Consulting offers network assessments and IT consulting that can help companies from the enterprise to small business level keep their network in the best position possible to mitigate zero-click attacks and improve their network monitoring and security!

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