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Account Takeover Attacks Are On The Rise: What You Need To Know

Account Takeover Attacks Are On The Rise: What You Need To Know

Account takeover attacks are on the rise, wrecking havoc among businesses and homes across the country. According to research, 22% of adults in the US have fallen victim to these attacks in the last year. At the same time, the frequency of attacks has shot up. Account takeover fraud increased by 90% between 2020 and 2021, costing an estimated $11.4 billion annually.

How Cybercriminals Take Over Accounts

In an account takeover attack, a malicious actor manages to break into and seize ownership of an employee’s cloud account through stolen credentials. Generally speaking, the attacker will have gained access to these credentials by purchasing them on the dark web. Many employees’ credentials are up for sale there due to ongoing data breaches, social engineering attacks and data leaks. 

Armed with these details, the malicious actor will then deploy bots to automatically test the password and username combination on a plethora of social media sites, cloud applications and financial sites. When they land on an application that enables them to login, they can then exploit the user’s account for their own means, typically committing identity theft for monetary gain. 

Why Is Account Takeover So Prominent? 

Account takeover attacks have a very high success rate due to poor password hygiene within the population. Let’s face it, most of us have tens of online accounts and remembering a unique password for each of these accounts is a bit of a headache. As a result, employees tend to reuse a password an average of 13 times. Often, these passwords are simple and easy to guess too, such as 12345 or qwerty. 

While using the same password is certainly easier for employees, it also makes it much easier for hackers to break into their accounts! Reused passwords and passwords that never change are the main reasons why account takeover attacks are so successful.  

In line with this, research shows that 64% of passwords exposed in 2021 breaches were reused by victims, and 70% of previously-compromised passwords (from previous years’ breaches) are still in use – putting companies at high risk of becoming victims to these attacks. 

Account Takeover Protection

What makes account takeover attacks particularly scary is that they are often hard to spot until it’s too late. When a hacker breaches an employee account, they will attempt to stay incognito for as long as possible. They don’t want to raise the alarm; this would ruin their identity theft attempt. 

At the same time, though, the losses from account takeover can be huge: compliance fines, damage to customer loyalty and a sink in revenue can all occur after a successful cyber attack. For these reasons, it’s vital to put the right protections in place to defend against and respond to account takeover attacks. 

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is a straightforward but effective way to reduce the success of account takeover attacks. This security mechanism works by requiring users to verify their identity in at least two ways, such as through a password along with a security question or a face ID, or token sent to another device for confirmation. 

It’s worth noting that multi-factor authentication can be pretty clunky if you don’t roll it out thoughtfully. For example, if you require your users to verify their identity every time they login, this could harm productivity. We can help you to put a seamless multi-factor authentication solution in place. 

Account Monitoring and Tracking 

Should a hacker manage to break into an employee’s account, you need a way to find out as soon as possible. This is where monitoring based detection tools come in. These tools, commonly called user behavior analytics, use artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather patterns of expected user behavior. They’ll look at where employees usually log-in from, the time they log-in from and the device they use.

If an employee suddenly deviates from normal behavior, the system will sound the alert for your managed IT provider to further inspect. These tools can be used in conjunction with sandboxing technologies, which enable IT administrators to investigate a potentially compromised account. 

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a must-have tool in your security arsenal, which works by securing web applications through filtering HTTP traffic. WAFs do this by analyzing traffic for signs of malicious activity and blocking these data streams before they have an impact.

In terms of account takeover attacks, this helps because WAFs can:

  • Discover and block traffic from identified attackers and bots through whitelisting 
  • Identify and block attempts at credentials stuffing 
  • Block brute force attacks in action 

Need Help With Improving Your Cybersecurity Posture And Tackling Account Takeover Attempts? 

Ready to take your cybersecurity game to the next level? Contact the friendly team here at GEEK911. We can help you improve your security posture and enhance security awareness in your organization.

Call (866) 433-5411 today!

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