Most people today have at least a few accounts that they regularly log into in order to access information, interact with their peers, pay bills, or schedule appointments. The different types of accounts someone might have could include: banking accounts, social media profiles, email logins, news subscriptions, gym memberships, and various other types of applications that require the sharing of personal information.
But what happens when one of these very common legitimate accounts is accessed by a malicious user? Throughout this article we’ll discuss account takeovers and how they impact both everyday users and businesses.
How is Account Takeover defined?
Account takeover is simply defined as the act of any user other than the rightful account owner accessing a profile, account, or any gated and protected personal information.
This can be done by one user hacking into one specific account with the intent to gain information on a given person, but it can also be done in the form of brute-force attacks. These large-scale activities occur when malicious automated tools are used to steal mass amounts of personal user information, and rapidly attempt to break into as many accounts as possible. Hacking into accounts is only the beginning, and additional malicious activities might follow including credit card fraud, spamming of fraudulent links, and identity theft.
How are Account Takeovers identified?
It is usually fairly easy to identify an account takeover after it has occurred. Some tell-tale signs of account takeover are: unusual messages sent from a profile that the rightful user does not remember sending, missing or updated information that the rightful user did not change, missing funds or drained loyalty points, or changed passwords so that the rightful user can no longer access their own information. Unfortunately, since the attacks can occur quite quickly, noticing these things after the fact is not as useful as preventing the attack in the first place.
How can Account Takeovers be prevented?
Everyday users can attempt to make their accounts more difficult to hack into by regularly changing their passwords, using two-factor authentication apps for added security, and avoiding clicking on suspicious links. However, even with these precautions in place, hackers are becoming more sophisticated and can still sometimes break through even the most carefully protected accounts.
In order to become fully protected, the business that owns the platform where all accounts are hosted (for example, the bank, social media platform, or membership portal owner) should consider putting additional security measures in place at a broader level.
One way to do this is by utilizing Go-to-Market Security technology. This type of software can quickly identify malicious activities through various security tests to better protect the organization and its loyal users.
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