Have you found yourself unexpectedly logged out of a website? Have you been receiving a lot of spam or suspicious-looking emails from places where you haven’t bought anything recently? If so, chances are your account credentials have been stolen by a hacker.
These hackers, who may be part of an international crime ring, use the information they’ve collected to break into as many other websites as possible. This hacking technique is called credential stuffing.
So, what is this credential stuffing?
To understand that, let’s first look at the bigger picture.
If you have an account on any given website, chances are you have the same username and password on other websites as well. Most people use easy-to-remember passwords so they can log into their favorite websites without constantly having to reset their passwords each time.
The problem with this is that if a hacker gets ahold of your email and username, they can break into every account you have. This is why hackers steal as much information as possible from their victims to access other accounts.
What is credential stuffing?
Since people tend to use the same password on multiple websites, it’s easy for these hackers to take the usernames and passwords they’ve amassed to break into other accounts. When the hacker uses these usernames and passwords to break into other websites, this is called credential stuffing.
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Differences between credential stuffing and brute-force attacks
The most important difference between credential stuffing and brute-force attacks is the method used. Brute-force attacks require a significant amount of time and effort since they aim to break into a website by guessing every possible password combination.
In contrast, while credential stuffing does require some knowledge about how email authentication works, it’s mainly a matter of trial and error. Hackers can simply take a list of usernames and passwords, add them to a script, and see which ones work – making it both faster and easier than brute-force attacks.
However, there are still several similarities between these two types of hacking techniques. They both typically involve automated scripts rather than individual hackers, for example. Simply put, credential stuffing is a type of cyberattack that involves using brute-force methods to gain access to your email account.
How does credential stuffing work?
Here’s what happens: a hacker breaks into an email account and obtains the login information for several popular websites – say Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. They then use these email addresses to break into other email accounts, looking for more usernames and passwords.
If they gain access to an account on one of these sites, like Pinterest, the hacker can potentially reset all of the victim’s other website passwords using their email address. This is because most websites rely on email authentication, which means that directly through the victim’s email address.
It’s important to remember that not every website requires email authentication – but this is where credential stuffing comes into play. If there are multiple emails associated with an account, like when someone uses the same email for several websites, hackers can take advantage of these extra credentials to break directly into the accounts.
What happens when hackers break into an online account?
Unfortunately, these types of unauthorized access are hard to detect. Oftentimes, neither you nor the website owner will have any idea that someone has broken into your account until something goes wrong.
Once they’ve gained access to one of your accounts, hackers can use it as a platform for spamming people on your contact list or sending out malicious links. They can also use it to manipulate search results, send malware-laden emails posing as important messages, and even make purchases using your credit card information.
So, what can you do?
Steps to ensure account security
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your accounts stay secure:
Use long and complicated passwords.
The longer, the better! Also, make sure the password is unique for every account – if someone manages to hack into one of your accounts using an email address you use on several websites, they can access all of your accounts simultaneously.
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Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that makes it significantly harder for hackers to break into your account – even if they have stolen the correct username and password. It usually involves receiving a text message with a unique access code or using an app to generate codes.
Avoid using the same username and password for multiple websites.
If you do, be prepared to reset all of your passwords as soon as a hacker gains access to one of your accounts.
There are several other things you can do to protect yourself from credential stuffing – but these steps should help get you started!
How does credential stuffing affect businesses?
For businesses, credential stuffing can be a significant problem. This is because hackers often use the same cluster of passwords to break into different companies at once – which lets them get more information than they would have if they only broke into one company at a time.
Credential stuffing can also pose a threat to companies’ online reputations – even when it’s not their fault. This is because hackers often send out malicious links that contain the company name, which can cause some people to confuse legitimate businesses with illegitimate ones.
What are the consequences of credential stuffing?
It’s important for companies to understand the dangers associated with credential stuffing – especially since many do not even realize they’ve been hacked. Hackers can make unauthorized purchases on companies’ credit cards, send out malicious links to customers and the media, and even break into their bank accounts – which can result in major losses.
Credential stuffing is a malicious form of hacking that takes advantage of the same login information on multiple sites. Hackers often use this tactic to gain access to customers’ emails and break into their other accounts as well as those of businesses – which can lead to serious security threats.
There are several steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of credential stuffing – like avoiding the use of the same username and password for multiple websites, setting up two-factor authentication, and maintaining long and complicated passwords.