Watering Hole Attack

Howard Poston
Oct 19, 2023
Watering Hole Attack

A watering hole attack is a type of cyberattack that targets a set group of individuals by compromising a website or online service, leading to the infection of the victims’ computers. As the name suggests, the targets of a watering hole attack are usually “led” to a website or service intending to compromise data or a network. Cybercriminals target specific industries or organizations, such as government agencies or financial institutions.

Examples of Watering Hole Attacks

Below are real-world examples of watering hole attacks, ranging from government agencies to banking institutions.

  • Government agency – In 2013, the US Department of Labor’s website suffered a watering hole attack that redirected users to a malicious site containing malware.
  • Financial institution – In 2017, several banking institutions across the globe were targeted through “booby-trapped with code that would trigger the download of malicious JavaScript files.”
  • Infrastructure – In 2021, Florida’s water utilities were targeted by a watering hole attack when a contractor hosted malicious code on its website that city officials frequented.

How to Avoid Watering Hole Attacks

Below are some tips on how to avoid falling victim to a watering hole attack.

  • Update software – Keep your web browser and operating system up to date, as this protects your data and network against known cyber vulnerabilities.
  • Exert caution – Be weary of suspicious links, images, URLs, or websites because they can contain malware.
  • Protect yourself – Use a security solution, including web filtering and malware protection, that prevents malicious activity from infecting your computer.

Watering hole attacks target large groups of users into taking action that will risk their data and networks. By exerting extreme caution and having the necessary cyber tools, individuals and organizations can reduce the possibility of falling victim to a watering-hole attack.

Howard Poston

Howard Poston is a copywriter, author, and course developer with experience in cybersecurity and blockchain security, cryptography, and malware analysis. He has an MS in Cyber Operations, a decade of experience in cybersecurity, and over five years of experience as a freelance consultant.

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