In the world of computer security and hacking there are certain terms that are used to indicate a security event.
Some of the terms mean something is benign and is not a big deal while other terms are very serious and can mean something is truly dangerous.
One of the worst terms that a computer security researcher can hear throughout the day is the words 0-day.
While most people will not what that means, if you are someone who is interested or work in computer security then you really know what it means and you also know that you have to find out if it affects your systems and if it does, you have a whole day of fortifying all of the systems that you are in charge of.
In this article I will talk about 0-days themselves and how they can affect you.
I will also talk about the importance of 0-days on a mobile phone and if it is just as bad as a 0-day on a computer.
At the end of this article you should have a full grasp of 0-days and how to keep your system from falling victim to one.
What Is A 0-day?
Before I go any further, I guess that is a question that needs answering.
What is a 0-day?
A 0-day (zero day) is when a vulnerability or exploit is first let out into the wild.
The time it is let out into the wild and the time that a solution is created for it is known as the 0-day period.
This can be a time of mass confusion depending on how serious the bug is.
For the most part, every exploit starts off as a 0-day but they are not usually that bad.
The developer of an exploit makes it grow over time, so when it is first released, it is probably not as bad as when it has been out in the wild for a little while.
If it is a real bad exploit then a 0-day can cause massive damage.
There have been a few instances of this happening, especially when the internet first started to go mainstream.
There were a few celebrity black hat hackers that built up a name for themselves by releasing 0-day exploits that caused a lot of damage.
How Bad Are 0-days On Your Mobile Phone?
When we are talking about 0-days on a mobile phone, then we are in whole different world of security issues.
In the past, a 0-day on the mobile phone was not such a big deal – most of the phones were very limited in functionality and besides your address book; there was not much information to damage.
In the past five years, however, things have changed somewhat.
Mobile phones now have as much power as the computers that were being hit by 0-days ten years ago.
People are starting to use their phones as a secondary computer which means that there is a lot more damaging information on there than there was before.
Having a 0-day on the phone is just as bad as having it on the computer.
Also, whilst most people would protect their computer with an antivirus program, they don’t think to install any kind of security measures on their cell phone whatsoever, leaving them much more vulnerable when a 0-day does hit.
There is one advantage that a person has on a cell phone than on a computer.
The ability to get the vulnerability on the phone is a little bit harder than it is to get it on the computer; there is a screening process for most applications that are put on the phone, especially the IPhone.
The newest types of phones out there, Android phones, makes it a little bit easier to put a vulnerability out there by allowing you to install an application from any web site but most people do not install applications in that manner anyway as they go to the Android store where the applications have been vetted and you know that they are safe.
This method of installing applications has been so effective that Apple is now thinking about bringing it to the computer as well.
You will still be able to download and install applications from anywhere but you will have a store that will be filled with trusted applications that you do not have to worry about.
Some people might find this style of delivering applications to the masses very limiting but others will find that they like the added security that this process brings.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself Against 0-days?
The best way that you can fight 0-days is to know that they are out there.
You can do that by following some of the more important security blogs out there.
They are usually the first place to go check when there is a new piece of malware in the community.
0-days are a threat on the cell phone but not as much as they are on the computer (you have a good antivirus program installed, right?).
Just make sure that you are careful and you should be fine.