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What is Account Takeover and Why is it Important?

Account takeover is a form of fraud that involves using stolen credentials to access your online accounts. It can affect your email, shopping, or financial statements.

It’s one of the most common forms of identity theft, with 38% of consumers reporting having experienced it in the past two years. It’s often difficult to detect and can damage a person’s credit rating and bank account.

What is Account Takeover Protection?

Account takeover protection is a vital cybersecurity strategy that stops cybercriminals from stealing personal and corporate identities. It can prevent phishing attacks that steal employee credentials, add fake employees to payroll, or exfiltrate sensitive data. In general, an account takeover protection is a success of a malicious third-party attacker gaining access to a user’s account via stolen credentials for fraud.

Typically, hackers perpetrate account takeover attacks using stolen credentials to access online accounts and gain financial or informational gain. Often, they purchase lists of usernames and passwords on the dark web from data breaches, social engineering, and phishing attacks.

These accounts are used for various purposes, such as fraudulent purchases or transfers of funds, to help cybercriminals profit. As part of an account takeover attack, fraudsters may use your identity and credit information to open new accounts in your name, making you the victim of identity theft and exposing you to legal repercussions and damaged credit ratings.

Detecting and stopping these attacks requires continuous monitoring of user behavior. This can be difficult because fraudsters hide behind their average login history and behavior, so it’s essential to spot suspicious activity, such as sudden password change requests or account alerts.

What is the Solution?

Account takeover fraud is one of your organization’s most devastating cyber threats. Without proper ATO protection, fraudsters can steal customer data and gain access to sensitive information, which can be used for identity theft.

ATO attacks are primarily targeted at financial services companies but can also impact e-commerce, travel, and other organizations that maintain user accounts for their customers. Once an attacker has accessed an invoice, they can use it to move laterally to additional related charges.

Credential stuffing is a common tactic in ATO attacks where hackers try dozens of credentials on multiple sites to find a working combination. This is usually achieved through automated bots that use brute force automation to test various username and password combinations.

To prevent account takeover, a company must have multi-layered, intent-based detection to identify malicious logins with low false positives. It also needs to locate sites and user accounts under attack, the techniques used, and whether the credentials are publicly available.

The solution to account takeover protection should keep pace with the increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks targeting your business. Detect, stop, and remediate account takeover using AI-based methods that rely on machine learning to detect anomalous behavior from bots and blocklists.

What are the Benefits of Account Takeover Protection?

Account takeover protection helps to safeguard your company’s online accounts from cybercriminals who use stolen credentials. Using these credentials, attackers can steal financial information, personal details, and other sensitive data to make fraudulent purchases or even commit identity theft.

ATO attacks result from breaches, phishing scams, or social engineering efforts compromising a business’s email and online security measures. They can cause significant damage to your organization and brand if successful.

Attackers may take over corporate and executive accounts by sending unauthorized emails, changing their passwords, and accessing social media profiles to gain access to sensitive data. They can also use those accounts to send malicious messages and disrupt operations.

The simplest way to protect your website from phishing fraud is by uniquely identifying each of the visitors who enter their usernames and password in your web application. This prevents credential stuffing, a joint account takeover tactic that allows fraudsters to test purchased credentials by trying many combinations of username and password.

Admins can quickly delete any email attacks sent internally from compromised accounts and alert recipients to any threats they receive. They can also lock out hackers from affected accounts to stop them from committing more attacks or exploiting the data they gained in an attack.

Account takeover attacks are one of your business’s most damaging cyber threats. Without prevention, they can cost your company millions of dollars in revenue and damage your reputation.

What are the Challenges of Account Takeover Protection?

Account Takeover Protection protects against a range of identity theft and fraud attacks. It is also an essential tool for defending against customer data breaches and cyberattacks on critical business operations and assets.

ATOs are typically perpetrated by cybercriminals using stolen credentials, which they acquire from various sources, including social engineering, data breaches, and phishing. The attackers then deploy bots that automatically access travel, retail, finance, and eCommerce websites to test password and username combinations and attempt to log in.

Depending on the site, these attackers may use various methods to gain access, including credential stuffing and brute force attacks. Often, hackers attempt to scale their attacks by trying the credentials on multiple sites to achieve a complete account takeover.

In many cases, the accounts targeted are precious because they contain high amounts of money, enabling them to be used for money laundering or transfer fraud. Moreover, these high-value accounts can be quickly sold on the dark web for a quick profit.

For this reason, it’s imperative to be vigilant in securing your online business. This includes being careful with user passwords, encrypting sensitive data, and ensuring that all accounts are securely locked after a set number of login attempts. Multi-factor authentication is also a good idea, such as tokens, biometrics, or SMS access codes.

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