Account takeover is the unauthorized third-party access to an online account by a hacker using the user’s credentials with the intent to commit fraud. The Hacker uses the same login information that is used by the genuine user. This makes it hard for the website to identify fraudulent users.

Account takeover is becoming increasingly serious and currently, there are over 15 billion login credentials available on the dark web. The result of this fraudulent activity is an estimated $3.5 billion in consumer losses.

Quite frankly, the lack of care taken by the average online user contributes vastly to the number of account breaches. For example, 52% of them use the same password for several different accounts. Crack one and you crack them all. 

How Does Account Takeover Happen?

In this article, we will review exactly how an account takeover happens, and what the impact of someone breaching your account can be.

 

How does an account takeover happen?

  1. Online criminals frequently take advantage of weak passwords. They will seek out accounts with repetitive passwords which may be old or weak.
  2. They will also use malicious emails, texts, and websites that are created to resemble legitimate ones to try and convince you to give them information.
  3. Where there have been data breaches, they utilize bots to log into many websites using the leaked username, passwords, and email addresses.
  4. The criminals may also resort to “Brute Force Attacks” utilizing automation to try large numbers of password combinations to try and access the victim’s accounts.

Once your account is breached the criminals will attempt to change your password to lock you out of your account. They will also attempt to change email addresses so that you do not receive notifications of changes they make, and transactions they attempt.

 

Rise of the Bots

There are two types of bots, good ones, and bad ones. Good bots are owned by companies such as Microsoft and Google. We do not want to block them, however, there are also a lot of bad bots out there, and these bots are becoming more sophisticated. Many of today’s threat to online security is carried out through these bots. This is why bot management is an important part of ensuring that your account is not taken over.

 

Ways to mitigate and manage bad bot activities

  • Blocking bots

Blocking bots is by far the best way of dealing with them, if we can distinguish between good bots and bad bots.

  • Feeding bots false data

When we feed a bot false information, we are using the resources of the hacker and wasting them. This protects our own data but also keeps the bot occupied.

  • Challenging bots

Challenging the bots means barriers are put in the way of them, barriers that force proof of being human, like captcha. The rise of captcha farms manned by humans passing the answers back to the bots has made this less useful than in the past.

 

How can you tell your account has been compromised?

  1. You may receive emails referring to your password reset request when you know you made no such request.
  2. You may receive notifications about transactions when you are sure you did not make them.
  3. You may get an email stating that changes have been made to your account that you know were not requested by you.
  4. Large numbers of OTP (One Time Password) notifications.

 

How to keep an account safe from Takeover

It is important to step up the security of all your online accounts so that you do not fall prey to online criminals. It is much easier to act to prevent and protect from an account takeover than to deal with the aftermath.

  1. Use much more complex passwords, that should be unique to each account. Never, ever, use the same login information for more than one account.
  2. Make use of any extra security questions or multifactor authentication that is available on each account.
  3. Install VPN software and Identity theft protection. This software makes you a much less desirable target for criminals.
  4. Not only should you have installed antivirus protection on your computer, but you should also make sure that it is always updated promptly.
  5. Take time to scan through your account regularly to check for any transactions that should not be there,
  6. Do not share your login information with anyone, even someone claiming to be an employee of the company operating the account.
  7. Avoid logging onto sensitive accounts when using public Wi-Fi.

 

What should I do if my account is breached?

Sometimes, despite our efforts, an account can be breached. If you find this has happened to you, it is important to remain calm and not panic.

If you are still able to log in to your account when you discover the account is breached, make sure your correct email is entered in the account, and change the password to lock the fraudster out of the account.

If you are unable to access the account, immediately contact the account provider to ensure that the account is blocked.

Check all your other accounts to ensure that they have not also been breached.

Online access to accounts and services has become popular because it is so convenient. Unfortunately, it has also introduced security concerns and it is important to be vigilant on all account security matters.

 

Summary

In this article, we have taken a look at; how account takeover happen? The rise of bots. Ways to mitigate and manage bad bot activities. How can you tell your account has been compromised? How to keep an account safe from Takeover. What should be done if an account is breached? This has given a general overview of account security, how to improve it, and what to do if you still get your account breached. The subject is a complex one and is a topic that all Internet users should understand. A small amount of time spent monitoring your security can make it far less likely that you become a victim, with all the financial losses and inconvenience that would result.

How Does Account Takeover Happen?