The zero-day exploit market is secretive. People as a whole tend to fear what they don’t understand and substitute fact with speculation. While very few facts about the zero-day exploit market are publicly available, there are many facts about zero-days that are available. When those facts are studied it becomes clear that the legitimate zero-day exploit market presents an immeasurably small risk (if any), especially when viewed in contrast with known risks.
Many news outlets, technical reporters, freedom of information supporters, and even security experts have used the zero-day exploit market to generate Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). While the concept of a zero-day exploit seems ominous reality is actually far less menacing. People should be significantly more worried about vulnerabilities that exist in public domain than those that are zero-day. The misrepresentations about the zero-day market create a dangerous distraction from the very real issues at hand.
One of the most common misrepresentations is that the zero-day exploit market plays a major role in the creation of malware and malware’s ability to spread. Not only is this categorically untrue but the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv11) provides clear statistics that show that malware almost never uses zero-day exploits. According to SIRv11, less than 6% of malware infections are actually attributed to the exploitation of general vulnerabilities. Of those successful infections nearly all target known and not zero-day vulnerabilities.
Malware targets and exploits gullibility far more frequently than technical vulnerabilities. The “ILOVEYOU” worm is a prime example. The worm would email its self to a victim with a subject of “I LOVE YOU” and an attachment titled “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. The attachment was actually a copy of the worm. When a person attempted to read the attachment they would inadvertently run […]