Anatomy of an Online Account Takeover

Customers and companies that operate in an online environment are prime targets for fraudsters. With the gaining popularity of both online and mobile commerce and as more and more consumer information becomes compromised, account takeovers are, unfortunately, increasingly commonplace. Businesses need to effectively verify the identity of their customers in order to avoid account takeovers and prevent the criminals from conducing transactions without the customer’s knowledge.

How Does an Online Account Takeover Happen?

An online account takeover can happen in a number of ways, but is most commonly initiated by luring unsuspecting users into revealing their login credentials. Fraudsters start by targeting their victims and attempt to gain their trust. This can be in the form of a friend request on a social media platform, or an email that appears to be from a legitimate company with the goal of trying to get unsuspecting customers to click on phishing links or open malicious files.

Once a victim clicks on a link or opens a file, he or she may unknowingly install malware on his or her computer. A popular program used by fraudsters is a key logger, which monitors and records keystrokes like a username and password, in addition to the answers to static security questions. This data is then sent to the fraudster, who can use the information to easily log into an account and gain access.

It can be difficult to stop these types of attacks, especially when a fraudster uses legitimate credentials to initiate a takeover. As a result, more robust and dynamic identity verification and fraud prevention methods are needed to ensure John Smith is actually John Smith.

Who Does It Happen To?

According to a study by the Retail Payments Risk Forum, seniors are the most trusting generation and are the most likely to fall prey to fraudulent scams targeting their information. Although millennials make more information available online that could potentially lead to a takeover, they are also more aware of constant threats and how to fight back against fraud by altering behaviors and avoiding phishing and other social engineering techniques.

What Do Online Account Takeovers Mean for the Victim?

Since customers and employees alike can be unsuspecting victims of online account takeovers, these fraudulent practices have lasting effects on both individuals and organizations. In addition to handing the keys over to a fraudster in order to go for a joyride with their account, customers that are tricked into providing personal details may also help criminals get the information needed to open new accounts. Employees that expose system information can also put the company and its customers at risk of a data breach.

Learn more about online account takeovers and what can be done to stop them using IDology’s ExpectID platform by contacting a representative today at (866) 520-1234.


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