Account Takeover

Account Takeover (ATO) Risk is Real

March 31, 20238 min Read

Account Takeover (ATO) is an increasingly sinister form of online identity theft that is becoming more and more pervasive. Bad actors are able to gain unauthorized access to accounts and wreak havoc on the businesses they target. This malicious activity is costly, with losses reaching into the billions of dollars, and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The risks associated with ATOs are numerous and serious, including financial loss, reputational damage, data breaches, and legal liabilities. Businesses must take proactive steps to prevent account takeovers and protect their assets.

ATOs are a threat to businesses of all sizes, and the consequences can be devastating. Cybercriminals can access sensitive customer data, steal funds, disrupt operations, or even commit fraud. Businesses must take steps to protect themselves from ATO attacks, including implementing strong authentication methods, developing robust incident response plans, and educating employees and customers on cybersecurity best practices.

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The Economics of Account Takeover Attacks
The Economics of Account Takeover Attacks

Types of Account Takeover (ATO)

Account takeover is when a person, usually a hacker, gains access to an individual’s personal accounts and performs malicious activities. Account takeover can take many forms, including the following:

  • Phishing is one of the most common types of account takeover. It occurs when hackers send fake emails or texts that appear to come from legitimate companies. The messages usually ask the receiver to log in to a website or provide personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. This allows the hacker to gain access to the user’s account.
  • Social Engineering is a type of account takeover in which hackers use psychological manipulation to gain access to an account. For example, they may pretend to be a trusted friend or family member in order to get a user to divulge their password or other sensitive information.
  • Malware is malicious software that is designed to gain access to a user’s accounts. It is often installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge, allowing the hacker to gain access to the user’s personal information.
  • Key Logger is a type of malicious software that records a user’s keystrokes and sends the information to the hacker, which allows them to gain access to the user’s accounts and passwords.
  • Password Cracking is a type of attack in which hackers use software to guess a user’s password. This allows them to gain access to the user’s account. These are just a few of the different types of account takeover.

Hackers are always developing new methods, so it’s important to stay informed of the latest developments and take steps to maintain robust account security.

Warning Signs of Account Takeover Risk

Understanding the warning signs of account takeover risk is an important step in protecting your business and customers from fraud and other malicious activity. By monitoring for unauthorized activity, you can help ensure that your accounts remain secure and customer data stays safe. Cybercriminals can gain access to online accounts using stolen credentials obtained through social engineering, data breaches, and phishing. ATO fraud can happen to any type of organization, including financial institutions, but can be detected and prevented with proper protection measures. Here’s what to look for:

Unexpected changes in account information

To identify an ATO attack, there are warning signs to look out for, such as unexpected changes in account information. Attackers may modify login credentials to maintain access to the account, making it crucial to monitor account activity regularly. Information systems affected by ATO attacks should be categorized into one of three levels of potential impact to determine proper security measures. It’s worth noting, eCommerce sites can be affected by ATO attacks where attackers use compromised accounts to purchase high-value goods and change shipping addresses to their own.

Unusual login activity or access from unknown IPs

AI-based detection can identify more sophisticated ATO attempts involving fourth-generation bots that mimic people's behavior. A Web Application Firewall (WAF) can also protect against ATO attacks by identifying and blocking requests from known attackers, detecting credential stuffing and brute force attacks, and enabling multi-factor authentication.

Cybercriminals may execute ATO attacks by phishing for login information through various means such as SMS, emails, scam websites, and phone applications. As such, it is important to look out for warning signs of an ATO attack, such as unusual login activity or access from unknown IPs. By remaining vigilant and taking appropriate precautions, individuals and organizations can protect themselves against the risks associated with ATO attacks.

An increase in suspicious emails or requests

An increase in suspicious emails or requests, such as emails containing links to websites or requests for personal information, can be a warning sign of Account Takeover (ATO) risk. These malicious emails or requests may attempt to get users to share personal information or log in to sites that are not secure. Such emails or requests should be ignored and reported to the appropriate authorities to prevent ATO attacks.

Unauthorized transactions or withdrawals

One major warning sign of an ATO attack is unauthorized transactions or withdrawals. This is because ATO attacks allow cybercriminals to use compromised accounts to make purchases or withdrawals without the account owner's knowledge or permission.

Financial institutions are particularly vulnerable to ATO attacks, as these attacks can result in theft and account compromise. Ongoing monitoring can help detect fraudulent behavior before it leads to account takeover. Effective ATO defense also involves monitoring and detecting patterns of behavior that indicate an impending attack, such as the creation of a new payee.

Unknown devices accessing accounts

Cybercriminals can exploit verification login pages on mobile sites and apps to carry out account takeover abuse and fraud. Phishing scams are a common method used by cybercriminals to trick victims into giving up their login details.

It's essential to be vigilant and take precautions to protect yourself from ATO attacks. Avoid reusing passwords across multiple sites and use strong, unique passwords. Enable two-factor authentication and regularly monitor your accounts for any unusual activity. By taking these steps, you can help prevent an ATO attack and safeguard your online security.

How Businesses Can Address Account Takeover Risk

Businesses can minimize the risk of account takeovers by implementing an identity and access management system. This system should include multi-factor authentication, which requires users to provide multiple types of credentials, such as a password, token, or biometric data, in order to gain access. Additionally, businesses should establish strong passwords and change them frequently. They should also consider implementing password managers, which store passwords securely and encrypt them.

Businesses should ensure that their systems remain up-to-date and patched for known vulnerabilities, along with installing anti-virus software for an extra layer of protection against malicious actors accessing sensitive data and systems. Furthermore, it is vital to train employees on security best practices and secure all devices that access company data with strong passwords and encryption.

Monitoring systems for suspicious activity is also key, as well as having a plan of action ready in case of a breach. This includes auditing user accounts on a regular basis to detect any unusual logins or changes in account permissions. Alerting the appropriate personnel if a breach is detected and making sure customer data is securely stored and encrypted should also be part of the plan.

Arkose Labs Minimizes Account Takeover Risk

Arkose Labs is a leader in bot management solutions that help businesses of all kinds minimize their risk of account takeover. Arkose Labs uses a multi-layered approach to combating fraud and abuse. This includes advanced machine learning algorithms that identify and challenge suspicious logins and automated anti-fraud measures such as two-factor authentication.

Arkose Labs also provides advanced analytics capabilities that allow businesses to monitor their user activities and identify suspicious behavior. It then takes action to prevent fraudulent activity and account takeovers. The company's platform also allows businesses to set up custom rules and policies to better protect their applications and data.

In addition to its comprehensive fraud prevention capabilities, Arkose Labs also provides businesses with an easy-to-use API so they can integrate its solutions into their existing systems. This makes it easier for businesses to quickly and easily add a layer of security that keeps their accounts safe from malicious actors.

Overall, Arkose Labs provides businesses with a comprehensive solution for protecting their accounts from account takeover. Its advanced machine learning algorithms and automated anti-fraud measures help keep businesses ahead of the curve when it comes to fraud and abuse. Its easy-to-use API and custom rules and policies make it easy for businesses to quickly and easily add a layer of security to their accounts.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help your business stay protected.