Zero-click attacks can creep up on anyone without ever leaving a trace. They are far more dangerous than other potential cyberattacks. Because the victim has no possible way out of it. Even when you are under attack, it can be hard to pinpoint it. As the name suggests, a zero-click attack can affect you even if you don’t do anything harmful. Usually, hackers use phishing links and vulnerabilities. But, with a zero-click attack, the victim doesn’t need to click on any links.
Usually, cyberattacks can be easy to recognize if you trace back your actions. You might have received a suspicious email with a link you clicked on. So, preventing an attack can be as easy as installing antivirus software and getting secure internet plans like Optimum cable packages. However, zero-click attacks are completely different. As you haven’t made a mistake, how are you going to fix it? This article will talk about the seriousness of zero-click attacks and how to stop them.
How Do Zero-Click Attacks Happen?
One of the biggest examples is the WhatsApp leak back in 2019. The malware penetrated deep into the phone with merely a missed call. So, the user couldn’t do anything about it. No matter how secure your network is, you can’t prevent yourself from ever receiving a missed call. The attack took advantage of a vulnerability in the WhatsApp source code. WhatsApp then had to ask users to download the software patch immediately.
Similarly, hackers successfully infiltrated a phone by sending a gif. The gif had macros with malware in them that quickly installed themselves into the phone. There have been zero-click attacks through sending a corrupt link that is seemingly safe.
Why Are They So Scary?
Government agencies use zero-click attacks for spying and investigating journalists. Israeli NSO group has created one of the most famous high-end software called Pegasus. The 2021 Project Pegasus revealed that many countries have used it including UAE, Saudia Arabia, and India. Moreover, it also stated that the software had a part in the Jamal Khashoggi murder case. So, zero-click attacks have gotten bad press worldwide and are part of a discourse concerning privacy.
For any person under attack, it can be near impossible to stay safe. Moreover, you might not even know that you are being hacked. The zero-click attacks don’t ask you to do anything. So, you don’t know how the attack even happened. Moreover, the hackers stay silent inside the system and can be hard to identify even if you are using the safest Cox gigablast internet.
In the past, people have received text messages on their phones giving them some bad news. Or an intimation that someone has used their credit card without their knowledge. So, usually, a zero-click attack is not meant to spread from one device to another. They are specific to one device and can target the user through just a call or a message.
How Are Zero-Day Attacks Different?
Zero-day is an attack on a software vulnerability that the developer is unaware of. As the attack happens without any prior intimation, the developers have potentially zero days to roll out a fix. A zero-day attack is also called a zero-day exploit, or zero-day vulnerability. Hackers can usually be aware of software vulnerabilities that they can take advantage of. They can sell these vulnerabilities in the black market and the developer can have no idea about it.
So, a zero-day vulnerability can be zero-day until someone acts on it. Hackers aim to make zero-attacks last longer so they can make their way deeper into the network. The longer a developer takes to roll out an update, the longer the hackers can have to make their move.
How to Prevent These Attacks?
Imagine a zero-click attack like a bullet hitting a person from far away. The victim can’t see the shooter and thus won’t be able to take any cover. Companies like WhatsApp have also sued NSO group for creating the software but to no avail. As in this analogy, NSO is just the gun manufacturer and the shooter is someone using the software. So, they can’t be implicated in any crime that has been committed via their software.
Even if these attacks are identified, they are extremely complicated than regular cyberattacks. It requires a lot of technical prowess and effort to overcome it. There could be logistical issues and time-sensitivity concerns as well. If hackers have already asked for ransom, then you risk losing a lot of your data. So, a combined defensive and offensive approach against zero-click attacks can be crucial.
Defense against these attacks can be one of the biggest challenges. Moreover, the involved risk and inflicted losses are also hard to identify. So, one of the only ways to deal with this could be to pool all available resources together. Some experts believe that all bigger corporations should come together. Companies like WhatsApp and Apple have already lost a battle with zero-click attacks. So, they should work collectively if they want to win the war.