Zero-day Attack

A zero-day attack or threat is an attack that exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application, meaning that the attack occurs on “day zero” of awareness of the vulnerability. This means that the developers have had zero days to address and patch the vulnerability. Zero-day exploits (the software and/or strategies that use a security hole to carry out a successful attack) are used or shared by attackers before the developer of the target software knows about the vulnerability.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities against which no vendor has released a patch. The absence of a patch for a zero-day vulnerability presents a threat to organizations and consumers alike, because in many cases these threats can evade purely signature-based detection until a patch is released. The unexpected nature of zero-day threats is a serious concern, especially because they may be used in targeted attacks and in the propagation of malicious code.

Into the concept of WAN networks zero-day attacks can lead to unexpected network utilization and decreased service performance.


IPS – Signatures and Anomaly Detection

Attacks or other misuses of network resources can be defined as network intrusions. Sensors that use a signature-based technology can detect network intrusions. A signature is a set of rules that your sensor uses to detect typical intrusive activity, such as DoS attacks. As sensors scan network packets, they use signatures to detect known attacks and respond with actions that you define.

The sensor compares the list of signatures with network activity. When a match is found, the sensor takes an action, such as logging the event or sending an alert. Sensors let you modify existing signatures and define new ones. IPS sensors update signatures online and they could receive new signatures as soon as the zero-day attack is detected and a signature is created.

The anomaly detection component of the sensor detects worm-infected hosts. This enables the sensor to be less dependent on signature updates for protection again worms and scanners, such as Code Red and SQL Slammer and so forth. The anomaly detection component lets the sensor learn normal activity and send alerts or take dynamic response actions for behavior that deviates from what it has learned as normal behavior. Anomaly detection initially conducts a “peacetime” learning process when the most normal state of the network is reflected. Anomaly detection then derives a set of policy thresholds that best fit the normal network.

Traffic ACLs

Standard and static extended access lists provide basic traffic filtering capabilities. You configure criteria that describe which packets should be forwarded, and which packets should be dropped at an interface, based on each packet’s network layer information.

Firewalls use application layer inspection in combination with traffic ACLs to filter based on TCP and UDP connections. Firewalls maintain connection state information for individual connections. This state information is used to make intelligent decisions about whether packets should be permitted or denied, and dynamically create and delete temporary openings in the firewall traffic ACLs.