Zero-day exploitation surged in 2023, Google finds


2023 noticed attackers more and more specializing in the invention and exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities in third-party libraries (libvpx, ImagelO) and drivers (Mali GPU, Qualcomm Adreno GPU), as they will have an effect on a number of merchandise and successfully provide extra potentialities for assault.

One other attention-grabbing conclusion from Google’s current rundown of the 97 zero-days exploited in-the-wild in 2023 is that there’s a notable enhance in concentrating on enterprise-specific applied sciences.

zero-day exploitation 2023

Variety of zero-days exploited within the wild (2019-2023). Supply: Google

“This noticed enhance in enterprise concentrating on was fueled primarily by exploitation of safety software program and home equipment, together with, however not restricted to, Barracuda Electronic mail Safety Gateway, Cisco Adaptive Safety Equipment, Ivanti Endpoint Supervisor Cellular and Sentry, and Development Micro Apex One,” Google TAG’s and Mandiant’s risk analysts famous.

Solely 11.8 p.c of zero-days in 2019 affected enterprise applied sciences – in 2023, that proportion reached 37.1. The shift has many distributors scrambling to reply to assaults rapidly and successfully, whereas engaged on an efficient patch.

Platforms have been making issues tougher for attackers

Conversely, business surveillance distributors have been conserving OS, browser and cellular gadget makers on the toes for years, spurring them to develop exploit mitigations that make whole classes of vulnerabilities ineffective for attackers.

For instance, Google’s MiraclePtr has made exploitation of use-after-free bugs within the Chrome browser plummet, and iOS’s Lockdown Mode protects in opposition to many exploit chains seen in 2023.

“Each Chrome and Safari have made exploiting JavaScript Engine vulnerabilities extra complicated by way of their V8 heap sandbox and JITCage respectively. Exploits should now embrace bypasses for these mitigations as a substitute of simply exploiting the bug instantly,” the analysts identified.

Who engaged in zero-day exploitation in 2023?

Business surveillance (aka “adware”) distributors and APT teams concerned in cyber espionage are probably the most prolific customers of zero-day exploits.

“The Individuals’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to prepared the ground for government-backed exploitation. PRC cyber espionage teams exploited 12 zero-day vulnerabilities in 2023, up from seven in 2022, greater than we have been in a position to attribute to some other state and persevering with a development we’ve noticed for a number of years,” the analysts shared.

In 2023, financially motivated teams leveraged solely 10 zero-days, with FIN11 (aka Lace Tempest) being probably the most prolific since its pivot involving the deployment of Cl0p ransomware after exploiting of zero-days in fashionable enterprise file sharing options.


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