Thursday, July 18, 2024

Mitigating Risk from ATO (Account Takeover)

Account takeover (ATO) rate has increased in the recent past. Fraudsters are taking advantage of weak links in companies to extract data. The data they get is what they implement during the ATO. For that reason, businesses need to come up with a plan that will prevent ATO attacks. Before looking into ATO prevention measures, you need to understand how the ATO works.

  • Phase One

The breach is the first phase of ATO. It involves criminals finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in popular websites and forums. Once the criminals find a weak space, they will use it to access the user database.

  • Phase Two

The next stage is planning targeted attacks. At this stage, the time credentials are high-value assets. The criminals keep the stolen data within a trusted network and work to monetize it. This phase can take up to 24 months. After getting the data, the attackers might try to use trusted advisors to decrypt the passwords. The criminals can use both blackmail and extortion.

  • Phase Three

After extracting much value from the stolen data, the fraudster’s next step is to sell the data. The aim is to make as much money from the information as possible.

  • Step Four

The final step is credential stuffing. Once the criminals buy the usernames and passwords, they try them on several sites. At this stage, criminals can make use of bots to scale up their attacks. This step is made possible since most people use the same username and passwords in all accounts. This method makes the entire process lucrative and easy.

With the high ATO rate, businesses need to know the best techniques to use to mitigate the process. Here are account take-over mitigation procedures you should know about.

Practice Good Cyber Hygiene

When dealing with cybersecurity, humans are said to be the weakest link. Thus, businesses need to ensure that the management and the employees practice good cyber hygiene. Organizations need to take the time to learn of the various ATO that might happen so that they can offer good cyber hygiene habits. Businesses can do this by

  • Using reputable anti-malware software
  • Having software updates and patches regularly
  • Being cautious on any links or downloads they make
  • Not sharing data online
  • Making sure that they back up files often

Limit Employee Access

In case you work with employees, ensure that you have given access only to those who need it. Each employee should have a limit to the amount of data they can access. That will guarantee that if their credentials are hacked, the fraudsters will also have limited access. Besides, you can also protect your business by using software to detect and reset any compromised passwords early. The software will protect your website even before criminals have a chance of using it.

Multifactor Authentication

Businesses can ensure their password is protected by using multifactor authentication. This is where one gets the account access only after they have numerous pieces of evidence. Having more than one authentication process makes the logins more secure. Thus, this lessens the possibility of ATO. Here are some of the authentication that you can use to help in making your account secure.

  • Fingerprint scan
  • Payment card security code
  • One time pin through SMS

Adaptive MFA

Another option you can use in securing your business is the adaptive MFA. That is keeping an eye on the logins and the IP address. When using this security feature, consider the device, geographical location, IP address, time of day. All these need to have a particular pattern. By keeping an eye on these details, you will notice when a user logins from a different location. If so, you can take action by asking them to offer verification. That way, you can be sure that the person trying to access the account is the rightful owner and not a fraudster. When you use this method and an intruder attempts to get into the account, they will not manage to do it if they do not prove they are the rightful owner. Thus, this will prevent ATO.

  • Ask security questions
  • Offer a one time OTP
  • Ask to make a phone call to their number

Offer Strong Email Solution

Numerous techniques can be used to launch a cyberattack, but email is commonly used. Fraudsters use this method to send out phishing emails to trick those using it to activate and embedded malware. In this technique, the fraudsters gain access to the account. Thus, making ATO possible. In the past, having regular spam filters was enough to block any suspicious email. But now, the cyberattack continues to be more sophisticated. That is the reason one needs to have a strong email solution. If you do, then you will secure emails from new or emerging threats.


The use of the secure socket layers can encrypt data transfer from the end-users to the servers. SSL is secure, and it helps prevent hackers from learning about the activities that go on your website. The websites that use SSL start with htpps://. The certificates that use the SSL warrant malicious parties do not steal the data.

Update Passwords

Another technique you can use to prevent the ATO is by setting up strong and unique passwords. It is paramount for you to update the details after a while. Keeping your data updated will keep your account protected even if invaders attempt to hack into your account. Thus, this will ensure that you have an easy time with the project.


No company is safe from fraudsters, and for that reason, it is your responsibility to warrant you keep your business safe. In case you have a user or an employee account, someone might attempt to steal them. That is why it is paramount for you to put measures in place to help you with fraud prevention. Doing this will pay off in the long term. Ensure that you have found the ATO mitigation solution that suits your company. That way, you will not have to deal with an account takeover.


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Adam Tanton
Adam Tanton
Adam is the Co-founder and Tech Editor for B2BNN with over 15 years experience in the enterprise technology field.