What is Account Hijacking and How Can Businesses Prevent It

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For those familiar with cybersecurity and the Fake Web, the term ‘hijacking’ will automatically have many associations. In general, hijacking can be defined as a person, automation tool, or other entity taking over something that does not belong to them and using it for a malicious purpose. 

There are a few different types of internet threats that fit into this category including session hijacking, click hijacking, and account hijacking. Session hijacking involves taking over an internet browsing session, and click hijacking involves interrupting someone else’s click on a link. But what is account hijacking? This article will define this threat and offer tips for preventing it from a business perspective. 

What is Account Hijacking? 

Account hijacking involves a malicious user or bot taking over someone else’s account for harmful purposes. An account can be anything from a social media profile, to a bank portal, to an email account. 

This type of fraud can be committed through stealing someone’s password, using other forms of fraud to gain information about someone, or through the use of automation tools that repeatedly try to access an account with known information. Account hijacking is concerning to users because it can be the result of other kinds of fraud, and it can also lead to additional fraud in the future like credit card fraud, chargeback fraud, and even identity theft. 

Is this the same as New Account Fraud or Account Takeover

It is important to distinguish between the different types of malicious activities that involve accounts, profiles, and portals in order to ultimately combat them. Account hijacking is often referred to as account takeover. Both terms essentially mean the same thing and can typically be used interchangeably. However, new account fraud is much different. New account fraud refers to the creation of completely new accounts for malicious purposes rather than the takeover of existing accounts. 

What issues does this cause for businesses? 

Account hijacking harms businesses because it can lead to customer mistrust and ultimately lost revenue opportunities. For example, when customers of an online business have their account taken over by fraudsters without their permission, it can often lock them out of that account, and inhibit their ability to make purchases and engage with content. Additionally, if a financial account is hijacked, the malicious user could then make fraudulent purchases or drain that account of funds, which also limits the legitimate user’s ability to patronize other businesses. 

How can Account Hijacking be prevented? 

One way organizations can prevent account hijacking is by making user accounts more secure. This can be done by requiring additional login details, utilizing captcha tests, or requiring double verification. However, since automation tools are continually becoming more advanced, some account hijacking can still slip through the cracks. In order to have a better overall picture of the invalid activity occurring on a given site, it is recommended that businesses use go-to-market security in order to proactively stop takeovers before they take place.