ATO, or account takeover, is a type of digital identity theft or fraud in which a malevolent third party acquires access to an online user’s account information. A successful ATO assault allows the attacker to modify account information, access and steal bank information, plant ransomware or other malware, and execute other criminal activities. Hiring an account takeover prevention company is the best way to prevent such assaults.
Changing the victim’s delivery address is all it takes for an attacker to get control of their account and begin making fraudulent purchases on the eCommerce site. This might result in huge expenditures before the victim realizes their account has been compromised. In November 2020, Spotify reported a data leak that affects 300,000 of its customers.
How Does An Account Takeover Take Place?
There are several methods for attempting to take control of an individual’s account. The following are only a few examples:
- Social engineering
Attackers use open data sources such as social networking sites and open datasets to gather fragmentary information like a victim’s phone number or their family member’s name. After obtaining this information, attackers can then guess the passwords of their victims.
There are several ways to trick victims into handing up their private data, including as creating a fake login page or sending out an email that appears to come from a trusted source. Spear phishing is a specific and deceptive form of a phishing attack.
- Bot attack
The hacker employs malicious bots to perform a large-scale brute force attack against the website. Even if they’re identified, sophisticated evil bots may take over a large number of accounts and change IP addresses in the tens of thousands or even millions.
- Credential stuffing
A credential stuffing attack involves a malevolent hacker rapidly attempting tens of thousands of different login credentials on a targeted website. Data taken from Instacart in July 2020 was later sold on the dark web after a credential stuffing attack.
How Do Account Takeover Attacks Get Detected?
Look for these crucial indicators to see if someone is attempting to take over your account on the website:
- Different nations’ IP addresses
The rapid appearance of a significant number of IP addresses from odd countries is indicative of account compromise. If the perpetrator isn’t aware of the account owner’s original location, he or she may use an inaccurate IP address. Keep a close eye on an account’s access location if it shifts within a short time of the previous adjustment.
- Several accounts sharing details
It’s possible for an attacker to alter account information, such as email addresses or passwords, after successfully claiming an account. This is a clear indication that an ATO is targeting your site if several accounts make similar adjustments to common information.
- Unknown-model devices
Device spoofing is a technique used by cybercriminals to make it harder for you to recognize a single device that is concurrently attempting to get access to many accounts. You’ll see these devices listed as ‘unknown’ in your operating system because of this. An account takeover attempt is more probable if you have a higher-than-normal number of unknown devices.
How Can Account Takeovers Be Avoided?
- Inspect for hacked credentials
New user credentials are checked against the leaked database so that you may determine whether the account has been taken over by someone with hacked credentials.
Periodic audits of your user database for evidence of data compromise are also essential so that you may notify any impacted users as soon as feasible. Alerting users and new signups to the fact that their credentials have been hacked is critical.
- Configure higher and lower limits for login attempts
To avoid account takeover, limit the number of login attempts based on the user’s username, device, and IP address. The use of proxies and VPNs can also be prohibited, depending on the user’s behavior.
- Notify clients of account changes
Whenever a customer makes a significant change to their account, tell them immediately. After all, if the criminal succeeds to get past your authentication measures, taking these safeguards might prevent or at least minimize the damage.
- Entity identification and fingerprinting
Even if attackers alter their IP addresses, user agents, or other distinguishing traits, advanced fingerprinting techniques can keep track of them. For ATO blocking decisions, this guarantees that they are able to examine any previous harmful or suspicious activity in context.
Taking Steps to Prevent Account Takeovers
- A System for Monitoring
A hacked user account should be secured immediately to prevent further intrusions. It is possible to sandbox a suspicious account so that you can watch its activities and, if necessary, block it.
- Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Even though account takeover detection isn’t their primary purpose, WAFs may be configured to notice and halt attempts using focused rules. Bots and brute-force attacks are both detectable by WAFs.
- Detection Using Artificial Intelligence
AI-based account takeover protection and detection software can pick up on more sophisticated bot attacks and attempts at account takeover.
Any website or organization that offers password-protected accounts must be able to detect and effectively block account takeover attempts. A hacked website can permanently damage your company’s reputation and cause you to lose clients.