“The modern IT infrastructure is an extraordinarily complex system of interconnected technologies, and each has the potential to run into issues or fail outright.” – Forbes
As we modernize and add more components to our tech stack, what arises is the opportunities for outage and security threats. Intruders today are always finding new ways to hijack networks, emails, devices, identities, and applications. And the year 2020, broke all records and witnessed large numbers of cyber-attacks on enterprises, governments, and individuals.
Now you must be aware of the digital hijacks that happen by letting out a password, opening a phishing email, or downloading a malicious attachment. You may even be cautious of the recent upsurge of ransomware attacks and how it can encrypt your data and demand a ransom to unlock it. But are you aware of the watering hole attack, the sinister kind of attack that will harm your security without you giving any of your credentials or downloading a malicious attachment?
If you aren’t aware, you have landed at the right place! In this blog, we have explained everything about watering hole attacks and the five-step process that you can leverage to protect your enterprise against these attacks.
A watering hole attack is not something new, but its frequency has increased in recent days and Forbes has listed watering hole attacks among the top security threats of 2022 with ransomware, phishing, and various other malicious attacks.
You must have witnessed this kind of attack in the animal kingdom, where a crocodile may find it difficult to hunt its prey while it is grazing in the field, but it can easily get hold of the prey’s neck when the prey comes to drink water in the watering hole.
Similarly in a watering hole attack, instead of directly attacking the target group, the digital hijackers compromise the sites that are likely to be visited by a specific group of people with common interests. For example, if the hijackers are trying to target law forums, they place a matter of threat on the websites that are likely to be visited by practitioners of law.
When the target users visit the website, the intruders leverage the vulnerabilities in their device (usually a browser bug) and install spyware or malicious software, to gain the access they need! Thus, it is not always necessary for the victim to interact with a website or click a link that looks prompting to fall a prey to watering hole attack. Instead, just by simply visiting a legitimate site the user can become prey to the watering hole attack.
Watering hole attacks are conducted to surveil a specific target community (spear-phishing attacks). But at times, they may also be a phishing attack, focusing on a broader group of people. This kind of attack can be extremely destructive as it can breach several layers of your enterprise security that relates to your business partners, connected vendors, and your trusted clients. You might be delivering the required user awareness training and adopting email protection policies to stay protected from these malicious attacks. But those measures alone may not be sufficient to protect your enterprise’s security.
1. Be aware of all the requests for information
Watering hole attacks are usually conducted against companies that have high security on their employee email accounts and Internet access. And these attacks usually happen in the form of social engineering attacks, requesting your users to provide their sensitive information. The best way to secure your enterprise against cyber-attacks is by raising awareness among your users. Be it a forum question, online survey, or any kind of conversation starter, it’s always advised to think twice before sharing your formation as it can later be used for surveillance or social engineering purposes.
2. Complete the updates as soon as they are available
To infiltrate your system cyber attackers always leverage the security holes in your software. The best way to avoid it is by keeping your system updated with the latest security patches! Just by taking a look at the software developer’s website you can always ensure whether the software you are using has the latest updates. If needed, you can also get in touch with a trusted managed service provider so they can ensure your systems are always up-to-date.
3. Conduct regular health checks
Performing a constructive analysis of your current security framework will provide you with all the critical data you need to protect your enterprise. Health checks like penetration testing, business impact assessments, and risk assessments will help you locate the areas of concern so you can quickly dive in and fix the issue.
4. Enable MFA across all your network endpoints
One of the easy and effective ways to ramp up the security of your organization is by setting up Multifactor Authentication. When you enable MFA, instead of just giving a single password your users should present two forms of credentials to access their accounts and devices. MFAs are truly effective as they can help you mitigate risks by 99.9 percent!
5. Enforce a ‘Zero Trust’ security model
When it comes to your enterprise security always go by the adage, “Never trust, Always Verify!”. Be it the users outside your organizational network or within your network, it is always good to authorize, authenticate, and validate users before granting any access to your enterprise applications and data! Now this will ensure an enhanced security posture for your enterprise and keep all the malicious attacks at bay!
As we move forward in innovation and digital transformation, it is always suggested to stay informed about the latest cyber security threats. But being informed and taking the right step can be two entirely different things when it comes to your enterprise security.
At AVASOFT we have helped hundreds of enterprises to enhance their security posture with our cutting-edge network assessments. We not only help you with assessing your security framework! We also go beyond and provide best-in-class solutions to help your enterprise stay ever vigilant against cyber security threats!
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