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  • Writer's pictureAline Silva | PhishX

What is Account Takeover and what are the risks for financial organizations?

Financial organizations handle a lot of their customers' information, data that is valuable to criminals. Therefore, these institutions are targeted by fraud crimes and cyberattacks.


Account Takeover (ATO) is an increasingly frequent attack among financial companies, e-commerce, and other digital services, because criminals steal credentials to carry out numerous scams.


With the use of automated bots and other methods, cybercriminals use the stolen credentials to gain access to and control people's accounts.


These attacks pose a series of risks to financial organizations, after all, we live in an increasingly connected world, where data and information walk freely over the internet.


That is why cybersecurity is so essential for society and organizations, only with proper protection is it possible to mitigate these risks.


Want to know how Account Takeover attacks occur and how financial organizations can protect themselves from these scams? Keep reading this text and learn more.

After all, what is Account Takeover?

Account Takeover is not just a simple data theft invasion to make a single purchase or hire a service.


In this fraud, criminals invade accounts and modify login data, with this they appropriate the identity of their victims and manage to carry out a series of frauds that can harm people financially and judicially.


When criminals change their victims' credentials, they are able to perform several actions such as:


·        Financial transactions;

·        Commit attacks against individuals or legal entities;

·        Access social networks;

·        Enterprise platforms;

·        Online gaming sites.


With this, he has access to all the accesses and people are unable to log into their accounts. This identity theft is very dangerous as the criminals use this information to commit the crimes on behalf of their victims.

How do these attacks happen?

Account Takeover attacks occur after fraudulent actions, such as social engineering, bots programmed to simulate different passwords per minute, purchases on underground markets, or even by people's security negligence.


First they obtain login credentials, with them the criminals access the legitimate user's account and once in the account, he can perform various activities such as transferring money, applying for new credit cards and carrying out criminal transactions.

How are credentials stolen?

Credentials can be stolen in a variety of ways, in addition to being obtained through data leaks, in public or private organizations, they can arise from attacks that are already known in the digital world.


Such as phishing attacks, where criminals target their scams through emails, text messages, and even conversations on social networks or apps. Its purpose is to get people to share confidential information.


This information can be without login credentials, personal details, or even banking information. With the information in hand, criminals are able to access the accounts and perform various actions.


Malware also poses risks to data security and can be used by criminals for Account Takeover attacks.


In this type of attack, credentials are stolen through malicious scripts that are found in online checkout forms. With this, people type in their data and this information is directed to the criminals.


By obtaining this information, cybercriminals can use it in their fraud, but they can also sell it on the black market, with this they obtain profitability and the data of their victims can be used by several people.


In addition to these attacks, criminals often utilize the Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) technique, where they intercept messages or data transactions by inserting them as proxies between two legitimate parties participating in data communication.


That is, they are able to intercept the transfer of information and all data shared on both sides, as well as, of course, extract login credentials and other personal data.


Regardless of how credentials are stolen, once attackers get the necessary information, they begin the credential stuffing process.


Since most people use the same usernames and passwords on different websites, these credentials are easily used and exploited by criminals and their automated bots.


When attackers manage to take control of the accounts, they change the credentials and block access to the victims, they extract resources and use the accounts to commit a series of frauds.

What are the risks for financial organizations?

As we have seen, Account Takeover attacks are very harmful to people, there are cases where criminals use their victims' accounts to receive transfers from kidnappings and other criminal actions.


According to estimates in the American Banker report, the losses caused by these attacks tend to exceed $343 billion worldwide between the years 2023 and 2027.


Financial companies are the biggest victims of these criminals, because they store personal information and credentials of countless people. In the event of a data leak through Account Takeover, the damage is irreparable.


These organizations can lose the trust and loyalty of their customers, after all, no one wants to have an account with a company that does not protect their data. The end of these business relationships can have a strong financial impact.


In addition, these institutions may face legal sanctions and legal compliance consequences for failing to protect people's data.


This is because there are numerous laws and standards around the world that must be followed by companies. Its purpose is to ensure the data privacy of the entire society and to impose monetary sanctions if these rights are violated.


Account Takeover can negatively impact the economy as a whole, especially if attacks occur on a national or global scale.


That's because it affects countless people and financial companies, shaking investor confidence and triggering an unprecedented financial crisis.

How to protect yourself from Account Takeover?

The risks are imminent, but know that there are some actions that can mitigate these risks and protect your financial institution's data against Account Takeover attacks.

Invest in awareness

As you can see throughout the text, credentials are stolen through targeted attacks on people, they are the ones who open holes both in their personal accounts and in organizational systems.


Therefore, one of the most effective ways to mitigate these risks is through awareness and a program focused on data security. It is necessary to train people so that they know how to identify and protect themselves from risks.


Many people have never heard about Account Takeover and how this fraud can be detrimental to the company's data and the country's economy, making them aware is making them understand that they are part of an organization's security.


Therefore, they need to be aware of cyber risks, not click on malicious links, use passwords and multi-factor authentication, and above all report any suspicious activity.


Implement authentication measures

Authentications are essential to ensure data security because they add an extra layer of security and help mitigate risk. When we talk about Account Takeover attacks, this protection is even more necessary.


With the use of authentication, people need to enter two or more verification factors, in addition to data such as username and passwords, this makes it difficult for criminals to obtain credentials.


In this way, as people and organizations increase the level of security, criminals face more rigorous processes to gain access, reducing their actions.

Behavior Monitoring & Analysis

Because Account Takeover attacks target people's behavior, it's important for organizations to utilize monitoring systems that detect suspicious activity and abnormal patterns in people's accounts.


This monitoring helps organizations know which accounts people access, whether systems are up to date, and what risks each one may pose to data privacy.


Organizations have a responsibility to regularly monitor the activities of all their teams, this helps to mitigate risks.


PhishX in the fight against Account Takeover

Account Takeover is a growing threat in the financial sector because criminals target these organizations and their data. As we have seen, targeted attacks and lack of awareness are risk factors for these actions.


PhishX is an ecosystem specialized in bringing information, knowledge and compliance to all people, our platform has a series of solutions and strategies to help these institutions protect themselves.

Digital Security Awareness

PhishX offers training on digital security focused on making people aware of the techniques and methods used in attacks, through our materials it is possible to highlight the importance of protecting yourself from Account Takeover.

By educating people on how to spot signs of phishing, malware, and other social engineering tactics, organizations can reduce the risk of attacks that compromise access credentials.

Phishing Simulations

Many Account Takeovers originate from phishing attacks. Therefore, it is essential that people know how to recognize these messages and be able to protect themselves.


On our platform, financial organizations are able to carry out regular phishing simulations, we have a database with numerous campaigns, with this you prepare people for all types of attacks.


Simulations help identify weaknesses and train people to react appropriately to real attacks.

Behavior Monitoring & Analysis

Monitoring is very important, with it it is possible to identify risk behaviors and act so that this problem is solved, creating solutions before attacks happen.

Our platform includes advanced monitoring tools that analyze people's behavior and detect suspicious activity.

It is possible to identify the devices that are being used in the organization, whether they are homologated and whether they are up to date. This allows financial firms to identify ATO attempts in real-time and take immediate action to mitigate risks.

PhishX provides a complete ecosystem of tools and strategies to empower people and protect financial firms from Account Takeover.

With customized training, phishing simulations, advanced monitoring, and educational campaigns, PhishX ensures that organizations are prepared to protect their accounts and sensitive data from unauthorized access.

Two men at a cybersecurity workstation, focused on multiple computer screens with graphics and technical information. One of them, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, points to a screen while the other examines it closely. The environment is dark, with soft lighting, and there is a cup of coffee on the table, suggesting long hours of intense and focused work.
Account Takeover is a risk for financial organizations.



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