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Account takeover fraud has increased by over 378% since last year. The sheer amount of account takeover fraud presents a big business threat and challenge to all business owners. This vice can leave your business exposed to data breaches. Unfortunately, the fraud will continue to get out of hand with attackers using sophisticated bots and tools.

The good news is that you can keep your account safe by using sophisticated solutions. But before that, you need to understand what account takeover fraud is all about. This article will let you know what account takeover is and how you can protect your website.

What is Account Takeover?

Account takeover fraud refers to a form of identity theft, where attackers steal users’ credentials. To do this, they hide their identity and pose as the real users. Once they gain access to your account, the attackers can send phishing emails, change your account details, and steal your credentials and sensitive information. Cyber criminals can also use the breached data to access other accounts in that organization.

Recent studies reveal that more than 5.1 billion has been lost due to account takeover in one year alone. The studies further revealed that the departments most vulnerable to account takeover include, human resources, IT, and corporate departments. These departments are at a high risk of attacks because they deal with sensitive information, security infrastructure, and financial data.

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How Does Account Takeover Occur?

The sheer amount of digital communication and databases presents cybercriminals with a wide range of weak points when trying to steal users’ credentials. More worrying, most people do not create strong passwords. A recent study revealed that people use common numbers and words as passwords. Cybercriminals take advantage of the weak links to gain entry to your account.

After taking over your primary communication channel, the cybercriminals will change the account information, including your passwords, security questions, username, and settings. You will be locked out of your account once the cyber criminals change your user information. The chances are that you will seem suspicious if you try to recover the account since you will not know the updated user information.

What are the Common Account Takeover Techniques?

Cyber criminals use several techniques when trying to take over an account. Here are the common takeover techniques:

  • Hacking Techniques. Account takeover attackers use various multiple hacking techniques to gain access to users’ accounts. Brute force attack is the common hacking technique used by attackers. During this form of attack, the attackers will create scripts that predict password combinations.
  • Spear Phishing and Phishing. Attackers who use this technique trick users into sending their credentials by sending correspondence emails. Phishing emails are easy to spot if you pay attention. On the other hand, spear phishing emails are deceptive.
  • Social Engineering. Account takeover attackers who use this technique take the time to research various databases and social networks. They can discover vital information that can be used to guess the password. Attackers look for information such as location, names, contact information, and the names of family members.
  • Bots. The perpetrators send bots to take over users’ accounts. These bots can gain access to several password combinations, which will be used for rapid attacks. Bots are more difficult to detect and stop since they deploy various locations.
  • Credential Stuffing. Credential stuffing is a type of brute attack where the attackers steal users’ credentials. These credentials can be traded and bought on the dark web. Attackers will use the credentials to access several accounts before you notice.

Why is Account Takeover Popular?

Cyber criminals can use the information they will access for various purposes. Here is why account takeover fraud is popular.

  • Credential Trading. Some attackers trade the stolen credentials in the black market.
  • Phishing Campaigns. Cyber criminals can use the stolen email addresses to start phishing campaigns. These campaigns go undetected most of the time.
  • Additional Account Takeover. The information can also be used to take over other accounts.
  • Reputation Damage. The attackers can use the obtained information to cause long-term damage to the company’s reputation.

Account Takeover Prevention

You can use various methods and strategies to protect and prevent takeover attacks outlined here.

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Train Your Employees to Practice Good Cyber Hygiene

The biggest cyber security risk in a business is the employees’ level of negligence. You need to ensure that you inform your employees about different cyber-attacks they need to watch out for. Take the time to teach your employees how to back up files regularly, avoid clicking on any links and downloading attachments. Also, teach your employees to create strong passwords and to use reputable anti-malware software.

Ensure Your IT Admins Implement Multifactor Authentication

The multifactor authentication will only allow the access of accounts after the user has completed more than one authentication method. This will ensure that logging in will be more secure.

Use a Strong Email Security Solution

Cyber criminals trick users into granting unauthorized access. Cyber criminals then use embedded malware to gain complete access to the account. Using strong email security solutions discourages cyber criminals and keeps them away from your account.

Security Questions

After a user has provided the right password, ensure that you ask security questions to make sure that you protect your account from login attempts by malicious sources.

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IP Block-listing

It will be easy to avoid account takeover attacks that are occurring from one IP since you can easily identify suspicious traffic coming from the same IP address.

Limit Login Attempts

Limiting the number of login attempts will go a long way towards discouraging account takeover criminals. However, make it reasonable to improve user experience while protecting the account.

Sandboxing

Always sandbox a suspicious account early on to avoid further damage.

Final Thoughts

Protecting your account from takeover attacks is vital. Keep in mind that attackers are always updating their techniques. Use effective account takeover prevention strategies that will not harm your site’s user experience. Implement these strategies early on to be one step ahead of the attackers.

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