The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

Feb/15

13

Snipers at the Watering Hole

Rhino at watering hole

Security researchers discovered a very sophisticated watering hole attack against Forbes.

There is a major trend towards increasingly targeted cyber attacks, from advanced persistent threats (APT), to spear phishing. Now we are seeing targeting applied to watering hole attacks. I think of this as the sniper at the watering hole.

Imagine a poacher trying to kill a white rhino. He knows that the rhino is very likely to visit the local watering hole eventually. One strategy would be to lay out land mines all around the watering hole. That would kill anything coming near, but it would also scare off all the animals (including the white rhino) and attract the attention of the game wardens.

The smarter poacher would hide a distance from the watering hole with a sniper rifle, waiting for the rhino to show up, and leaving everyone else alone. If only the rare rhinos are attacked, the others animals are much less likely to notice what is going on.

So, how do you protect yourself as a valuable white rhino? One trick is to get a really good zebra costume. If the poacher thinks you are a common zebra, rather than a valuable rhino, then you will not be targeted.

Taking this back to the real world of cyber security, it is possible to completely avoid these kinds of targeted web based attacks if you use anonymity tools which prevent your identification.

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Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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1 comment

  • Mark D Hughes · February 14, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for this Lance. As a Non-Tech, I especially appreciate your clear and simple explanation without feeling like I’m being talked down to. Your poacher analogy is spot on. Great work as usual Lance.

    Reply

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