A watering hole attack is a type of cyber attack that spreads malware into a victim’s devices. The malware being used in these attacks either gathers the victim’s personal data and sends it back to the hacker’s server or deceives employees to gain access to their corporate network and steals confidential information. Additionally, with internet tracking tools, hackers observe which websites companies and users visit the most. They then attempt to find the vulnerabilities of those websites and infect it with malicious software.

 

How does it work?

There are many steps on how a watering hole attack works. Firstly, the attackers find their targets by job title, organization, etc. The attacker uses internet tracking tools like ‘AddThis’ and ‘KISSmetrics’ which helps them discover websites that are regularly visited by the target. Secondly, the attacker will search for vulnerabilities in these websites and embeds malicious code that redirects the user to another website that hosts the malware. Moreover, the attacker will wait for the user to visit the website so the malware is dropped onto the user’s system. Lastly, the victim’s system is compromised, the attackers can access and steal user’s personal information.

 

Prevention and Mitigation:

  • Software update Watering hole attacks misuse bugs and vulnerabilities to invade a victim’s PC. Users are required to update their software and browsers constantly to reduce the risk of an attack. Users should regularly check the software developer website for the latest security patches. Another option is hiring a managed IT services provider to update the system.
  • Paying attention to your network In order to detect watering hole attacks, users should use network security tools. For instance, Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) to detect malicious and suspicious network activities. Moreover, bandwidth management software enables individuals to detect user behavior and abnormalities that could initiate an attack, such as a high number of downloads.
  • Conceal your online activities Users should hide their online activities by installing a VPN and by using a private browsing feature. This will help keep users safe from cybercriminals. Finally, the best protection is staying informed. As cyber threats continue to grow, individuals must always be vigilant and aware of the newest threats.

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