Account Takeover: Don't Let Fraudsters Takeover Your Social Media & Online Bank Access

aoount takeover

According to IT security leaders, the top three riskiest entry points for ransomware are: (1) Unpatched vulnerabilities (2) Phishing emails with malicious attachments/links (3) Unmanaged devices accessing the network.

Account takeovers (ATOs) have had devastating effects on individuals and businesses. However, an effective risk management and security policy can reduce chances of occurrence.

What Is Account Takeover?

Have you ever got calls or messages from friends or colleagues who had their Facebook, Instagram or other online account taken over? Account takeover is a type of cybercrime where a person or criminal gang gains unauthorised access to someone’s account, by obtaining their login credentials. This is done under false pretences or forcefully. 

When we consider our dependence on many types of online accounts, it can be disturbing when you are locked out of your social media, email, bank or other online account.

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Some Account Takeover Statistics

A 2021 study by Security.org found that over 24 million United States households have been victims of account takeover with an average loss of $12,000. You may say “oh, this only happens in the US.” The study was conducted on US households, but I dare say that a good number of people reading this know someone who has lost control of one of their social media, bank account, bank cards, emails, or work-related accounts.

I know people who have had their internet banking taken over and lost lots of money.

Two other findings from the report are:

  • 60% of the victims used the same password across multiple accounts.
  • Social media accounts made up 51% of the accounts taken over. Banking was 2nd at over 32%.

Consequences Of Account Takeovers

These include:

  • Financial loss
  • Reputational damage
  • Increased malware and phishing emails
  • Fraudulent credit applications

How To Prevent Your Account From Being Taken Over By Fraudsters

Here are some tips on how to prevent online account takeover. Please note that there is no absolute prevention tip, but a series of actions that severely hamper account takeover.

  1. Awareness: Organisations should have training and awareness campaigns. Users should be able to detect phishing emails or calls, and how to use the internet safely. This is especially important as more companies allow staff to access work resources from their mobile devices and personal laptops.
  2. It is convenient to use the same password for all your online accounts, but don’t do it! Instead, use a password manger. Businesses should have password policies that will help staff use ‘best practices’ for password management.
  3. Use two-factor authenticity (2FA) or multi-factor (MFA) authentication.
  4. Have identity theft protection.
  5. Install internet security.

How Should Companies Fight Account Takeover?

Companies should develop risk management processes to fight ATOs. This can centre around a protect, detect and respond approach. The Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team also gives advisory and updated vulnerability alerts.

The bottom line is that every company that relies on technology should have systems and organisation controls in place.
Follow guidelines on how to keep your business and digital assets safe.

If properly setup, you will reduce the likelihood of account takeover. Get help if you or your organisation or are unable to secure your network on your own.

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