Account takeover (ATO) is an online identity theft where cyber-attackers steal credentials or personal identifiable information (PII)- addresses and banking details and utilize them for fraud.
Moreover, attackers often utilize bad bots to procure access to a user’s online account or an e-commerce account with financial information during an ATO attack. Organizations must follow robust cyber-security practices to prevent ATO account takeover prevention. Here are a few methods of defending the account.
Deploy Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Biometrics
MFA requires a user to enter more than one or more pieces of data to log into their account. This way, the attackers find it challenging to procure entry into the account. Users tend to utilize identical passwords for various other accounts, making the account vulnerable to many attacks.
Therefore, organizations must enable MFA or biometrics to all accounts and not just work email addresses. Moreover, biometrics provides an added advantage that allows businesses to enable facial, voice, and fingerprint recognition. It diminishes the risks caused by password recycling.
Also Read: Seven Alarming Signs of Spear Phishing Attacks and How to Prevent Them
Good Cybersecurity Habits
Users must avoid accessing attachments or links within a suspicious email, even if it is from a known sender. There is a likeability of a hacker compromising a user’s account, allowing them to pose a victim to continue deceiving the users. A simple method to verify if the mail was sent from the sender it is claiming to be is to contact the individual directly to ensure the reliability of the mail.
Moreover, businesses must ensure that all the software is up to date. However, updates often consist of patches for software vulnerabilities that cyber-attackers utilize to exploit to install password-stealing malware on the devices.
Install Robust Anti-Phishing Solutions
Traditional anti-phishing filters do not actively detect ever-evolving scams of cyber-attackers; therefore, fraudulent emails can still enter undetectably enter the organization. At the same time, modern and intelligent anti-phishing solutions employ machine learning and advanced defensive analyses, not just adhering to content but also the context. It will alert the employees of complex and context-driven phishing attacks like the ATO.
Authorize and Authenticate API Consumers
Broken authorization and authentication are the highest-priority vulnerabilities in API security. These API flaws are highly prevalent and destructive. Therefore, businesses must authenticate API callers where data or functionality is private and sensitive.
Moreover, they must always regularly validate the levels of authorizations of authenticated users to ensure they are the ones who can access the data or functionality.
Only Display the Required Data for the Front End to Function
Attackers utilize intercepting proxies on endpoint devices to expose the API communications of the front end easily. This is also true for encrypted transport like the TLS. Attackers readily harvest and eliminate data like this to help them in ATO attack campaigns.
Standardize Typical Account Behavior
Businesses must analyze the API traffic and build a granular baseline of legitimate behavior for the organization’s special APIs. The practical analysis must encompass login APIs and sensitive functionality or data access APIs. By utilizing valuable tools, businesses can create standards of typical API behavior and determine whether or not any API consumption deviates from the stationed baseline.
More importantly, these tools can efficiently detect deviations like excessive login errors and potential attempts of manipulations- tokens, user IDs, and vital API parameters. For businesses that solely rely only on basic security authentication measures to stop ATO, there are high chances of them getting exposed in the long term.
Set Rate Limits on Login Attempts and Assess Compromised Credentials
Businesses must set specific rate limits on login attempts per username, device, and IP address based on the users’ usual behavior. Moreover, businesses must also incorporate limitations on using proxies and VPNs.
At the same time, an essential step in ATO prevention is to compare new user credentials with a breached credentials database. It allows businesses to understand when users sign in with known breached credentials.
Security teams must also assess their database regularly to detect compromises in existing users’ information and notify them immediately. Teams must proactively alert users on new or questionable sign-ups after the credential breach.
Deploy an ATO Prevention Software
ATO attacks drag themselves through various processes- login attempts from different devices and multiple failed login attempts. Businesses must deploy online ATO fraud protection software. At the same time, companies must look for cybersecurity software that detects all the minute signals in each request to the applications, website, or API to diminish suspicious activities.
Strategies to Mitigate ATO Risks
Deploy a Tracking System
Organizations must take adequate measures to prevent further attacks when accounts are compromised. By effectively mitigating a suspicious account, businesses can track all the account-related activities and block them if needed.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
However, WAF is not designed for ATO detection; businesses can configure it to identify and block attacks via streamlined policies. WAFs also assist in identifying brute force attack signs and other bot activities.
Also Read: Is Storing Passwords Online Safe?
Employ AI-Based Detection
Organizations must employ an AI-based account takeover protection and detection software to identify and restrict sophisticated ATO attempts in real time. Many ATO attacks utilize modern 4th gen bots that efficiently impersonate human behavior. Hence, it becomes difficult to detect ATO attacks.
More importantly, AI and ML-based performance behavior-based detection allows businesses to determine complex ATO attempts. At the same time, it effectively tracks mobile applications, company websites, and APIs for questionable activities.
ATO attempt detection and prevention is crucial for an organization that offers credential-secured accounts. Compromises in the website result in a loss of consumer trust and permanently damage the brand’s reputation.
No online business or account holder is secure from ATO attempts, whether a large enterprise or a smaller company. Businesses must proactively protect the ATO prevention, protection, and detection strategies.
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