In a world where almost every digital touchpoint requires personal data, it is not entirely surprising that Account Takeover Fraud has grown to become not only more common but also more sophisticated. 

According to a study done by German market and consumer data company Statista, approximately 52 million data breaches happened in the second quarter of 2022. And while that number is already astounding, it’s already 56% lower compared to the previous quarter. From this research, we can determine two things: the first one is that data has become the most valuable asset in the world, and the second is that more and more companies are starting to invest more money in creating a solid cybersecurity plan against data breaches.

Unfortunately, as technology advances, so do cyber threats. In this article, we will tackle one of the most common types of data breaches and what you can do as an organization to keep it from happening to you, your staff, and your clients. 

What is Account Takeover Fraud? 

Account Takeover Fraud, also known as ATO Fraud and Account Compromise, is a type of cyberattack in which hackers gain control of a legitimate user account. ATO usually starts with cybercriminals getting access to passwords and usernames, through the dark web and illegal means including, but not limited to social engineering, broken control access, and phishing attacks. Once they have access to user credentials, they will then deploy bots with the capability of automatically accessing various platforms ranging from finance and retail to travel and healthcare. These bots will test varying combinations of the email, username, or password until they are able to successfully log in and “take over” the accounts. 

How Does Account Takeover Fraud Happen? 

There are many ways an Account Takeover Fraud can be executed by attackers. Listed below are the four most common: 

1. Data Breach-caused Credentials Theft

In the year 2021 alone, over 22 billion records got publicly disclosed due to data breaches. These caused a lot of hackers to get access to leaked email addresses, usernames, and passwords which are generally the bare minimum an attacker would need to take over an account. Add that to the fact that most users typically use identical login credentials for most websites and online services, cybercriminals will find it easy to carry out Account Takeover attacks. 

2. Brute Force Hacking

With so much of our personal life and data we willingly share digitally, a single look at a social media profile can already provide a lot of valuable information to attackers. This allows them to come up with potential passwords which they then feed to bots that can provide all combinations and variations for login attempts. The available technology to hackers can make cracking 8-character passwords possible in an hour or less. 

3. Phishing

Victims can be indirectly involved in Account Takeover Fraud through phishing. In this setup, users are tricked into providing their login credentials through calls, emails, or text messages that looked like they came from reputable companies. Clicking on unknowing links or downloading attachments can also lead users into sharing more information than they should through sophisticated phishing attacks. 

4. Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks

When you go to any website or application, your internet traffic goes through a number of servers in order to provide you with the content you’re expecting to see. If an attacker is able to intercept this traffic while in transit and chances upon a server without encryption, they get visibility on the next actions you make online which can also include access to usernames and passwords. Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is a way MitM attacks happen.

Account Takeover Fraud Protection

Now that you know how attackers are able to take over accounts, the next step to take is knowing your options in terms of protection and prevention. Here are some cybersecurity measures you can take to keep your personal and organization accounts safe from Account Takeover attacks: 

1. Multi-factor Authentication

Websites and applications are evidently doing more to help protect the huge number of data they request on a regular basis. One of these is called Multi-Factor Authentication. With this, suspicious login activities, like logging in from a new device or logging in from a different IP location, will require additional information before signing in. These can be a security question that needs to be answered, a token or verification code that will be sent to your registered mobile number, or biometrics like a Face ID or fingerprint scan. 

2. Account Tracking and Suspension

If you think your account is compromised, isolate the platform, and suspend it as soon as possible. Afterward, make sure to update passwords on any other website or application that utilizes the same credentials. 

3. Password Reuse Policy

In a study done by Yubico, it was revealed that 54% of employees reuse their passwords for multiple work accounts. The most common members who do this are upper management and C-levels. Put a company-wide Password Reuse Policy in place that requires all employees to update their credentials on a regular basis. Provide clear guidelines that are actionable and easy to follow. 

4. Continuous Vulnerability Assessment

Investing in a robust vulnerability assessment tool can greatly help in the prevention and protection again Account Takeover Fraud. With software like this, continuous scanning and mitigation plans are made available which allows for instant detection of broken access control or account takeover attempts. 

If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool designed to keep your business from being a victim of Account Takeover Fraud and other cyberattacks and data breaches, then our GRED Web Security product is what you need. Get started now by sending an inquiry and scheduling a call with our experts!