Account Takeover: Are You Opening the Door for Cyber Threat Actors?

Cyber criminals are constantly working to find ways to steal your personal information. When you’re not careful, you can find your account compromised by hackers. When this happens, you become prone to being a victim of theft and identity fraud. This becomes a problem if the hacker gets access to sensitive information like work and bank details.

So how does an account get taken over by cyber threat actors? Account takeover happens when someone gets hold of your password and uses it without permission. Once they have access, they can make unauthorized transactions or change your account and even use it to conduct other malicious activities online.

How Does Account Takeover Happen?

Account takeover is when a cyber threat actor gains access to your account. This can be done by stealing your password, or by using malware to gain access to your account. Once the hacker has control over your account, they can then use it for their own purposes, such as sending out phishing emails or stealing money from you. In addition, if the hacker has access to one of your devices, they may be able to access private data stored on that device.

Common Ways an Account is Taken Over

While it’s not always easy to tell if an account has been compromised or not, there are some common giveaways to be careful of. This includes getting an email from an unknown source asking for money in exchange for access back into your account or notice transactions on your credit card that you did not transact. 

Here are some common ways that an account can be infiltrated:

1) The same password for multiple accounts

Credential stuffing is a method of hacking that takes advantage of the fact that most people use the same password for several different accounts. With this, once cybercriminals obtain passwords from other websites, they can try to use them to log in to your accounts on other sites and platforms. 

2) Falling for phishing scams 

These emails contain links that take users directly to a fake website designed to trick them into giving up personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers. These sites can also be used by attackers who want access to accounts through malware downloads or by impersonating employees at a company where an employee works in order to gain access to their work account.

3) Malware activities

Malware is a type of software that performs unwanted actions on a computer system. Additionally, it can be used to steal personal information, monitor user activity, or gain access to a computer system. Malware can be installed by a malicious actor, or by users who are tricked into installing it.

The most common forms of malware are viruses, worms, and Trojans. Viruses are programs that replicate themselves and attempt to spread from one infected machine to another. Once someone opens the file on their computer, the virus also runs and infects the given machine as well as any other machines connected to them via network or USB drives.

Ransomware, on the other hand, is a type of malicious software that encrypts a user’s files or threatens to delete all data stored on their computer if they don’t pay for an unlock key. This form of malware is usually spread through phishing emails that contain links to web pages or websites with malicious content.

What Happens When an Account is Taken Over?

When an account is taken over, the attacker may use your account to send spam and create fake websites. They may also use your information in order to access sensitive information like banking and credit card information.

Additionally, the attacker might be accessing your accounts for malicious reasons, such as identity fraud or money laundering. These activities could result in serious financial losses for you and other victims of cyberattacks.

Preventing Your Account From Cyber Threats

Tracking all of your accounts from social media, banks, and even work can be plentiful to manage. The difficulty comes in being able to manage them properly and protect them from being compromised and taken over. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prevent cyber threats with your accounts:

1) Use strong passwords and never share them with anyone

A strong password is key to keeping your accounts safe. To create one, you should:

  • Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Make it long and complex enough that no one would be able to guess your password.
  • Do not use personal or common information that can be linked back to you or those around you such as birthdays, pet names, or people that you love.

Never share that password with anyone and don’t write it down too as someone can come across it.

2) Use multi-factor authentication for your account

Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires you to use more than one method to prove your identity. For example, it could be a password, a code that’s sent to your phone, or a biometric such as fingerprint or facial recognition.

Many online platforms now require this form of authentication for their users to boost their security. It is important that you take this extra step as hackers will often try to access accounts they know are not secured with MFA first. 

Having this second layer of protection wards off bad actors as they become deterred from trying to access and move on and try somewhere else instead.

3) Avoid suspicious transactions and links

Never easily click on links in emails or social media. More importantly, never enter personal information on a website you’re not familiar with and aren’t verified. Be careful with attachments that you receive as well. Don’t open any attachment that you weren’t expecting to receive, even if it appears to be from someone you know.

Pop-up ads and other unexpected windows appearing on your desktop should be avoided. These can contain malicious software that could steal information stored on your computers, like passwords or credit card numbers, so it’s best just not to click the window at all and close whatever popped up.

4) Use a Virtual Private Network

One of the best ways to protect your accounts from being taken over is to use a VPN, or virtual private network.

A VPN (virtual private network) is an online service that allows you to create an encrypted connection between your device and the company providing the service, making it impossible for anyone else to see what you’re doing. In other words,  when you use a VPN, no one can see what you’re doing online because they only see the IP address of the server connected to the VPN instead of yours.

Your browsing history and other information about what you do with your computer when using a VPN is kept hidden and encrypted when using a VPN as well. This can be helpful in protecting yourself from hackers who might try to steal your identity or personal information by hacking into unprotected systems.

Get All Your IT Needs With Abacus

With all the accounts that you handle, keeping your privacy and security is a must. Having a compromised account can become a problem as your personal, work, and financial data can be taken advantage of. 

Fortunately, you can count on Abacus to provide your IT-related needs at the right price. Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your organization run more securely and efficiently.

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The Abacus Blog Team
At Abacus IT, our blog is authored by a team of IT experts with a wealth of experience in various facets of technology. Our primary blog author is a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry. With a deep understanding of cybersecurity, cloud solutions, network infrastructure, and IT management, our author provides valuable insights and actionable tips to help you optimize your IT operations.

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