A Complete Guide to Water Point Attacks

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Waterhole Attack: The Attack Vector Used to Target Florida Water Utilities!

Do you know that as many as 1,000 end-user computers visited the infected site by attackers during the 58-day window! But what are these attacks and how do they affect an organization? Well, this blog sums it all up!

Cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to scam individuals and organizations around the world by snatching their money and data. One of the popular attack vectors adopted by hackers these days is water point attacks. With cybercrime increasing daily, organizations around the world are striving to stay one step ahead of this growing threat. This requires knowledge of all the prevalent and emerging cyber attack vectors used by threat actors.

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What is a water point attack?

A water point attack is a cyber attack designed to target a specific group of users either by infecting the websites usually visited by the targeted users or by luring them to a malicious site. Also called strategic website compromise attack, this attack vector aims to infect the systems of targeted users to gain unauthorized access to their organization’s network.

Water point attacks are targeted attacks and may look like spear phishing, but traps more victims at a time than spear phishing. In these attacks, hackers create new sites or compromise legitimate applications and websites using harsh zero-day exploits without antivirus signature, ensuring high attack success rate. The highlight of water point attacks is that victims may not even realize that they have been compromised until much later.

How does a water point attack work?

(Source: ResearchGate)

Start a success water point cyber attack requires appropriate planning and execution by threat actors. To protect yourself and your organizations against such attacks, it is essential to know how they are carried out. So here’s how a water point attack works:

Step 1: Hackers profile the users they target based on their industry, job title, organization, etc. This helps them to determine what type of websites and apps are often visited by the targeted users or the employees of the targeted organization.

2nd step: Then the threat actors create a new website or search vulnerabilities in existing applications and websites to inject malicious code, which redirects users to a malicious site.

Step 3: By doing so, they manage to infect the target’s system with malware.

Step 4: Hackers can now exploit the malware infection to initiate malicious activities. They often collect usernames and passwords to launch credential stuffing attacks on targeted applications, sites, and organizations.

Step 5: Once a user’s system is compromised, threat actors can move sideways within the network and ultimately violate the entire organization.

How to prevent these attacks?

Data theft, financial losses and damage to the company’s reputation are some of the most common consequences of water point attacks. With the frequency and severity of these attacks increasing rapidly, it is essential that you take all possible precautions to keep your organization secure.

So here are some of the steps you can take to avoid cyber attacks on water points to take place.

1. Conduct periodic VAPT: Vulnerability assessment and penetration tests (VAPT) can help you ensure that your security controls provide adequate protection against application and browser-based threats such as water point attacks.

2. Keep systems up to date: Keep all your hardware and software up to date with the latest updates and security patches. Failure to do so can create weaknesses in your security infrastructure and lead to cyber attacks.

3. Beware of third-party traffic: All third-party traffic, regardless of its origin, should be treated as unreliable until it has been otherwise verified.

4. Enable multi-factor authentication: Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all applicable endpoints in your organization’s networks. This will reduce the impact of water point attacks in case the attackers manage to steal the user credentials of your employees.

5. Establish a cyber-resilient work environment: Inform your employees about water point attacks to make them more vigilant. Provide your staff with good cybersecurity awareness training is the best way to create a cyber resilient work environment. You can use tools like ThreatCop to make training sessions more effective and engaging.

So, keep these tips in mind and make cybersecurity a priority to protect your organization from vicious attacks from cyber criminals.

Do you have any other suggestions for preventing water point attacks? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The article A Complete Guide to Water Point Attacks first appeared on the Kratikal blogs.

*** This is a syndicated Security Bloggers Network blog from Kratikal Blogs written by Dhwani Meharchandani. Read the original post at: https://www.kratikal.com/blog/a-complete-guide-to-watering-hole-attacks/


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