What exactly does "Account Takeover" (ATO) stand for?
An account takeover attack, also known as an ATO attack, occurs when an adversary obtains unauthorised access to the credentials for an online account belonging to a user. This access may then be used for identity theft, fraud, and to allow other forms of cyberattack, such as access to a user's corporate credentials in order to login and plant malware inside the corporate network. This access can also be used to facilitate other forms of cyberattack.
How Does the Account Takeover Process Work?
The vast majority of authentication systems rely on passwords, despite the fact that passwords are well known to be insecure. The majority of individuals will use the same password for all of their accounts, even if they have more than one, and this password is often quite simple and easy to figure out. Even if a company has rules to enforce strong passwords (length, needed characters, etc.), workers will often alter passwords in predictable ways. This is true even if the company has regulations in place to enforce strong passwords.
The compromise of accounts via the use of easily cracked passwords is a popular tactic, but it is by no means the only one. An attacker may get an account password through other methods, such as the use of malicious web sites or social engineering, which eliminates the necessity for the attacker to guess the password.
The Various Methods of Account Taking Over
Attacks that take control of a user's account are a prevalent kind of cybersecurity risk, and they may take many different forms. The following are examples of some of the most typical kinds of account takeovers:
Data Breaches: A typical source of authentication information that has been compromised comes from data breaches. In the event that password hashes are compromised as a result of a data breach, malicious hackers will be able to utilise those hashes to try out various account passwords.
Guessing Your Password: Cybercriminals will have an easier time breaking weak passwords, which makes it easier for them to guess the right credentials for online accounts. It doesn't take long to figure out the password to a lot of different online accounts when almost 10% of the passwords that have been published are 123456.
Credential Stuffing is a practise wherein cybercriminals take advantage of the fact that many individuals repeat the same password across many accounts. This is a mistake that many people make. When an attacker gains access to a user's password for one account, they will attempt to use those credentials on other websites in order to benefit from the fact that the user reuses their passwords.
Phishing websites or genuine pages that have been hacked may include malicious code that is meant to capture and transfer user credentials to the attacker.
Phishing and other forms of social engineering may be used to deceive users into divulging their login credentials to an attacker, who can then use those credentials to access a user's account.
Signs That Someone Is Trying to Take Over Your Account
Because the user's credentials may have been obtained at a location over which the organisation has no visibility, account takeover assaults might be difficult to identify in the beginning stages of the attack. An company would not be able to tell if, for instance, a previously used password was exposed because the security of a separate online account was compromised.
Nevertheless, a company may keep a watchful eye out for any telltale signals that the security of an employee's account has been breached. The following are some crucial indicators:
Login Attempts That FailAccount takeover assaults on web portals that try to guess or stuff credentials may cause a huge number of failed detections. Monitoring for these unsuccessful attempts to log in may assist with the identification of certain sorts of account takeover threats.
User Analytics: Users tend to exhibit particular patterns of activity, such as checking in at certain times and locations, etc. Access attempts that deviate from these patterns of activity may be indicators that an account has been stolen or somehow compromised.
Unsafe Configurations Cybercriminals often deactivate security settings and set up odd configurations, such as mail filtering and forwarding, in order to circumvent security measures. These kinds of alterations might be an indication that a user account has been stolen or somehow compromised.
Malicious Activities Cybercriminals may exploit a hacked account to send phishing emails or try to exfiltrate sensitive information from an organization's systems and networks. Both of these activities are examples of malicious activities. An account showing these harmful actions may have been hacked by an attacker.
How to Avoid Having Your Account Being Taken Over
Attacks that involve taking control of another user's account may be carried out in a number of different methods. Businesses have the ability to defend themselves against these assaults by putting specific safeguards into place, such as the following:
Training to Raise Cyberawareness Many methods for taking over an employee's account entail deceiving the employee or taking advantage of the employee's security mistakes. Attacks like this may be avoided by providing personnel with training on the latest cybersecurity procedures.
Solutions to Prevent Phishing: The use of phishing emails is a popular tactic used by hackers to gain access to users' account credentials. Anti-phishing software may assist in the detection and prevention of phishing information before it is able to reach its intended recipient.
Policies Regarding Passwords A great number of methods for taking over other people's accounts take use of passwords that are either easy to guess or that are repeated. It is possible to make it harder for employees' passwords to be guessed by putting in place stringent regulations around passwords.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Multi-factor authentication (MFA) needs a password in addition to additional criteria for user authentication. MFA stands for "multiple factor authentication." It is possible to lessen the damage caused by hacked credentials by implementing MFA throughout the whole organisation.
Monitoring of Accounts: If a user account has been hacked, this may trigger a variety of warning signals. Monitoring for these warning indicators gives a business the ability to discover compromised accounts and take corrective action for them.
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