What is a ‘Water Hole’ Phishing Attack?

A watering hole phishing attack is a type of cyberattack in which the attacker targets a specific group of individuals by compromising a website or online resource that the group is known to frequent. The term “watering hole” is derived from the predatory behavior of certain animals, like big cats, which wait near watering holes for their prey to come and drink. Similarly, in this type of cyberattack, the attacker identifies websites or online locations that are popular among the target group and infects these sites with malicious code or malware.

Here’s how a watering hole phishing attack typically works:

Target Selection: Attackers first identify their target audience, which could be a specific organization, industry, or community.

Reconnaissance: They research the online habits of their target group to identify websites or online resources frequently visited by the potential victims.

Infection: The attackers compromise one or more of these websites by injecting malicious code or malware into the site’s content, often using vulnerabilities in the site’s security.

Victim Engagement: When members of the target group visit the compromised website, their devices may become infected with malware without their knowledge.

Data Theft or Manipulation: Once compromised, the attacker can use the infected devices to steal sensitive information, conduct espionage, or gain unauthorized access to the target organization’s systems.

Watering hole attacks are particularly insidious because they rely on trust. People usually trust websites they visit regularly, making it easier for attackers to compromise their devices. This type of attack is difficult to detect and can be highly effective when executed properly.

To protect against watering hole phishing attacks, individuals and organizations should:

Keep Software Updated: Regularly update your operating system, browsers, and plugins to patch known vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit.

Use Strong Security Practices: Employ strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication wherever possible.

Maintain Updated Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software: Use reliable security software to detect and remove malware.

Educate Users: Train employees or users to recognize phishing attempts and suspicious website behavior.

Monitor Network Traffic: Organizations should regularly monitor network traffic for anomalies and unusual activity that might indicate a compromise.

Conduct Security Audits: Periodically assess the security of websites and online resources, especially if they are known to be attractive targets.

By staying vigilant and implementing strong cybersecurity practices, individuals and organizations can reduce the risk of falling victim to watering hole phishing attacks.


Few areas in the information technology space draw as much focus and concern as cybersecurity, and rightly so. Threats that were once the concern of governments and enterprises now frequently target small and midsized business. In addition, cybersecurity requirements from clients, partners, investors, insurers, and regulators continue to grow. 

Our cybersecurity team delivers complete protection across endpoints, servers, networks and cloud platforms. Employing industry-leading next-gen firewalls and antivirus protection, intelligent web filtering, data-loss prevention tools, threat intelligence, and training and testing tools, our NIST-based, data-centric approach to cybersecurity ensures your people, data, and customers remain as safe as possible. 

To learn more about how we can help your company develop and execute a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, reach out to us Contact us today: https://altourage.com/contact/