55 zero-day flaws exploited last year show the importance of security risk management

Deploying security patches as quickly as possible remains one of the best ways to prevent most security breaches, as attackers usually rely on exploits for publicly known vulnerabilities that have a patch available — the so-called n-day exploits. But mitigating the risk from vulnerabilities unknown to the affected software developers and don’t have a patch available — the zero-day flaws — requires a careful analysis of the types of actors exploiting them, the geography and industries they target, the malware payloads they deploy, the tactics they use, and the type of products they usually target.

According to an analysis by Google-owned threat intelligence and incident response firm Mandiant, attackers exploited 55 zero-day flaws last year, fewer than the 81 observed in 2021 but triple the number tracked in 2020 and higher than in any previous years. In fact, 2020 was an outlier because security vendors saw their normal workflows disrupted by the COVID pandemic that year, possibly impacting their ability to discover and track zero-day attacks.

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