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How to Prevent an Account Takeover
Account takeover also referred to as ATO, is when 3rd parties get hold of your account credentials. Often times these are criminals who can perpetuate fraud, steal the intellectual property, and sell it to underground markets. It happens extremely quick and the collateral damage can take a lot of years after that. Over time, there has been tons of ATO prevention products on the market but like anything on the web, nothing is ever foolproof, there really is no such thing as 100% protection. This is clearly evidenced by the sharp increase in the number of attacks over the years despite the many available products.
ATO starts with a breach and here is where criminals find and exploit all the vulnerabilities in forums and websites and quickly gain access to their user database. What follows after this are the targeted attacks where credentials become high-value assets. All the stolen information is stored within their trusted networks until they have monetized the data. Of course high-profile and wealthy victims are treated differently because of their potential to offer more money and all this is done via blackmail and extortion. Then the third phase begins which involves the complete extortion of money from the stolen data. Then once that is over and done with, the credentials are sold to less sophisticated criminals. Phase four is all about credential stuffing where these criminals try to use the purchased credentials to enter on multiple other sites. With the help of automated botnets, criminals are able to easily download easy to use tools for this purpose. Of course because most people use the same passwords on multiple accounts, it is not a hardship for them.
ATO prevention is a crucial part and should not be taken lightly. You will find that preventative steps are vital here and is where the real power lies. Some of the common strategies are no longer effective here when used alone and these are things like multi-factor authentication, behavior based technologies, password managers, password rotation, and scanner solutions. There simply are no means to find the exposed credentials on the underground and these techniques are unable to alert security of ATO.
Fortifying passwords is the first step to effective prevent ATO. It is a tactic that is proactive rather than always playing defense. Too simple passwords and reuse of previously compromised passwords is a gateway to such an attack and all employees should be educated about it. The intervention of such a sale is the next step as this can stop the sale of these credentials before it happens. Step three is when you stop the bleed. You shall need to enforce an effective solution that instantly and automatically force a password reset.

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