Credential Theft: How It Works and How to Protect Your Business
November 18, 2019

A threat actor only needs one employee’s credentials to gain access to your organization’s entire infrastructure and/or data. The potential consequences of stolen credentials in the wrong hands are endless. You can experience direct financial loss, damage to brand reputation, loss of intellectual property, downtime, etc.

Anyone in your organization can have their credentials stolen. According to the Cybersecurity Threatscape report by Positive Technologies, one in five data thefts involved stealing account credentials. It’s important that organizations understand the threat of credential theft and take action to defend against it.  

Source: Verizon 

How Do Cybercriminals Steal Credentials?

Hackers looking to steal credentials may use any of the following methods:

Keylogging: Hackers can install malware with keylogggers that record the keystrokes on a computer and send the data back to hackers.  

Phishing: Hackers will send users sophisticated phishing emails urging them to change their passwords or update their information. These emails will provide the user with links to web pages that look legitimate but are really phishing websites that are built to steal credentials and personal information. 

Web injections: Hackers inject malicious code into your web browser via malicious browser extensions, links, or ads that allow them to intercept data as its being transmitted.

What Happens to Stolen Credentials? 

Cybercriminals can do any of the following with your stolen credentials:

Engage in fraud: Hackers can impersonate your organization and request fraudulent wire transfers from vendors or business partners. 

Sell: There are several forums on the dark web dedicated to selling and buying user credentials. Once these credentials are bought, cyber criminals can essentially do whatever they want with the stolen credentials. 

Spy: Hackers can use your stolen credentials to spy on your company and gather intelligence regarding your business dealings. They can then leak this information to your competitors or use this information to blackmail your organization. 

Install malware: Hackers can alter the code of your website to steal customer information through formjacking or install malicious ads that can infect visitors with malware. 

How to Protect Your Credentials

Credentials are the keys to your organization and it’s imperative that organizations take the necessary steps to secure them. Here are three things you can do to defend against credential theft: 

Monitor credentials: Sometimes hackers don’t even have to work to steal your credentials – they can easily find them on the dark web after a massive data breach. By monitoring the dark web for your company’s credentials, you can take action before they are maliciously used by a threat actor. You can start monitoring your organization’s credentials today with our Secure IT – User Defence solution. We will alert your organization as soon as any compromised credentials are found on the dark web, reducing the potential impact of a breach. 

Have a good password policy: Users are responsible for creating safe passwords for their accounts. It’s important that they use good password security, such as never sharing or reusing their passwords.

Act immediately: If you experience suspicious activity in your network or find out your credentials have been exposed in a data breach, you must change your passwords immediately. Users should also never use default passwords or logins as they are easy to guess or can be easily found online. Always change the default passwords of any accounts or hardware as soon as they are added to your infrastructure. 

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