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What is an Account Takeover Attack, While the proliferation of digital communications has left all employees vulnerable to account takeover, the departments most at risk are IT, HR, and high-level management, as they have direct access to sensitive data, and financial information, and security infrastructure?

What is an Account Takeover Attack

What is account takeover

Account takeover attack is a form of identity theft and fraud in which a malicious third party can successfully gain access to a user's account credentials, by impersonating the real user, whereby cybercriminals can change account details or send emails Phishing email, stealing financial information or sensitive data, or using any stolen information to gain access to other accounts within the organization.

How is the account hacked?

The growth of digital communications and data storage means that cybercriminals have a large variety of entry points when trying to access users' personal information, too, since people are often nasty about using strong passwords, a 2017 survey by splashdata showed. The top 5 passwords used were a copy of (123456), and cybercriminals don't need highly sensitive information to successfully gain access to an account, they'll look for the simplest entry point, and build the account takeover from there.

It can start with any piece of personal data that is used when logging in, such as an email address, full name, date of birth or city of residence, all of which can be found with minimal searching. Once the hacker takes over the users' main communication channel, they can change Everything the account gives them access to, such as security questions, passwords, encryption settings, usernames, etc. This complete shutdown can also make the actual user look suspicious when trying to solve the problem because they will no longer know the updated information associated with the account.

Account Takeover Techniques


There are many hacking techniques used by attackers, the most common type being a brute force attack, in which a cybercriminal develops automated scripts that collect passwords, hoping to generate a successful login key.

Phishing and spear phishing

Cybercriminals will use email correspondence to trick users into revealing their personal information, while phishing emails can be automated and easy to detect, phishing emails are highly targeted and more deceptive.

Social engineering

The perpetrators of account takeover will spend time searching through open databases and social media, searching for relevant information such as name, location, phone number, family member names, anything that will help guess the password.


Hackers will deploy botnets to hack customer accounts, where bots can enter commonly used passwords and usernames to carry out high-volume and fast attacks and take over the largest number of accounts, all while remaining hidden from view, since bots spread from With multiple sites, it is difficult to determine which malicious (IP) addresses you are logging on to.

Credential stuffing

Credentials stolen or leaked from multiple companies or purchased from the dark web are tested against multiple websites, hoping to catch a victim who didn't realize their login information had been hacked.

How hackers control the account

Cybercriminals may use a variety of techniques to gain access to an unsuspecting user account. If the attacker has a list of usernames for a target site, but not passwords, he may use a technique called password spraying where they try to use a common default password, such as (Password1), in exchange for Too many usernames, the attacker uses the brute force of bot automation to systematically try to use the guessed password against as many usernames as possible until they find one that works.

If an attacker has a valid username and password combination for a target site, he may try to extend the attack to gain control of user accounts on additional sites. and other popular sites hoping that some users will reuse the same usernames and passwords for multiple sites.