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Account takeover means that someone has been able to break into your online user account one way or another. Account takeover fraud (ATO) can have very serious consequences, and it can require a lot of work and time to fix the situation.

Why should you care about account takeover?

While account takeover can result into, for example, your Netflix account being hijacked, it can have even more sinister consequences. This is because online accounts often include personal details, like name, home address, or even credit card details.

More often than not, we tend to use the same user credentials on multiple online accounts. This means that when criminals have been able to take over one account, they can use the same login information to take over other accounts as well. While it might not sound severe when a seemingly insignificant account gets hacked, it can lead to further harm.

That’s why account takeover is a pathway to online identity theft. With stolen login details criminals can often break into accounts that include valuable information. With the personal details stored on those accounts, criminals can apply for loans and credit cards or buy goods with your money. Even if you get the situation solved, clearing the mess can take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress and anxiety. And who knows if the stolen details will be used again?

For more information on why criminals want your personal details, read this article. >>

How does it happen?

The attack can happen in many ways. Criminals can steal the necessary information directly from your device with malware, or steal data from the companies that you’ve created an account with. Criminals can also trick you into giving your details through phishing scams. Quite often the stolen data is also sold on dark web, meaning that the criminal taking over your account might not be the same who stole the login information.

Why account takeover is so common nowadays, is because people use the same login credentials on multiple accounts. Doing this enables the criminals to have access to all of the accounts using the same username and password combination.

This article further explains how account takeover happens. >>

3 easy steps to avoid account takeover

You can’t completely avoid account takeover because your login data can be stolen from the online services you use. You can, however, make it difficult for criminals to steal other accounts with the same stolen data. Here are 3 simple ways to do that.

Use unique and strong passwords

Using the same or few passwords everywhere endangers all your user accounts when your password gets compromised. Web criminals are well-aware that most people reuse their passwords. When they successfully steal one, they will try it on many user accounts. When you use unique passwords, they can’t access your other accounts with just one stolen password. You can find more on this topic from this blog post. Store your passwords in a password manager for easy access and easier remembering.

Use 2-factor authentication

2-factor authentication is a second barrier in addition to your password that protects your user account. It makes it a lot harder for criminals to use stolen user credentials. Read more about 2-factor authentication and how you can enable it from this blog post.

Get F-Secure ID PROTECTION password manager

F-Secure ID PROTECTION is a handy password manager. You can store and create unique and strong passwords and access them from any device. You can also use it to autofill your passwords when needed. Not only that, ID PROTECTION monitors your personal information online. When a service you use gets breached or a data leak is detected, you will receive an alert with expert guidance on what to do next. Try it for free, with no credit card required! >>

 

Watch Olli Bliss’ expert explanation about account takeover from the video below.

Luciano Hernández

30.12.20 3 min. read

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