Blog / Authentication / What is ATO (Account Takeover) Fraud, and how to protect against it?
What is ATO (Account Takeover) Fraud, and how to protect against it?
20 Nov 2022

ATO Fraud is an attack where cybercriminals steal login credentials to online accounts or buy a list of stolen credentials. After gaining credentials, cybercriminals can deploy bots to access different websites to log in on different websites, including retail, ecommerce, travel, social media, finance, etc.

Eventually, the attackers successfully create a list of verified and working credentials that they can use to abuse the accounts or sell those credentials, causing identity theft. Here we will discuss how ATO fraud works and how you can protect against it.

Different ways of working on the ATO fraud

Users don't change their passwords frequently, and a common practice is using the same password on different sites because it is easier to remember. Cybercriminals can easily access those passwords, and your account will stay venerable for as long as you don't change a password. Here are some different ways Account Takeover fraud works.

Brute force attacks

Brute force attacks involve trying various passwords and combinations until finding the one that works. Cybercriminals deploy bots that can crack passwords exponentially in less time using the latest hacking tools.

Data breaches

Data breaches result in the theft of credentials, and there is a list of compromised credentials for sale on the dark web. Cybercriminals usually buy these lists to access accounts over several websites that they can then use to abuse the access and exploit that website.


Phishing is a way of getting login details by sending a link that looks like the real one and replicates the website. So, anyone with a lack of awareness about such scams can fall for this, and as soon as they enter their login details on that page, their account security is compromised.

Malware data theft

Viruses on your device can achieve several functions, and one common function is to steal all saved information from the user's device. That's why you must not open files or links that seem suspicious. Some viruses can record your keystrokes and hijack your browser data.

Man in the Middle Attack

This attack lets cybercriminals track all your activity when the traffic route is not encrypted. Such attacks are common with public Wi-Fi networks and those personal Wi-Fi networks with less security.

How to detect ATO fraud when preventing against it

Detecting ATO fraud depends on the organization as they have visibility into all users' activity. So, with an intelligent system, any irregular activity can be spotted. Things like behavior patterns and access location can tell the system about irregular activity, and such activities can only be detected with continuous monitoring.

ATO fraud protection measures

ATO fraud is simple to protect against, and here are some of the best Account Takeover fraud protection measures.


Multi Factor Authentication is based on 3 factors, including biometrics, a physical key, and a passcode only the real user knows. When implemented, the system will not provide access unless all three of these are verified. MFA is more secure but takes more time and effort, so 2FA is a good but less secure alternative.

Account Tracking

Account tracking systems can prevent further attacks by sandboxing suspicious accounts. It may result in suspending a compromised account.

Web App Firewall

Web Application Firewalls can protect web applications by filtering traffic and blocking malicious traffic. So, ATO fraud attacks can be easily prevented by tracking:

·         Known attacker request

·         Bot access

·         Credential stuffing

·         Third-party MFA

·         Biometric credential stuffing

AI-Based Detection

AI-based detection for Account Takeover Protection catches bot attacks and tempts them to take over an account. It also tracks unusual activities based on behavioral differences. It is secure but needs advanced AI for the identification of sophisticated attacks.


Anyone who becomes a victim of ATO fraud will have their account venerable unless they know about it and change their security credentials. While most people don't know that their credentials have been compromised before something bad happens, spreading awareness about different attacks for account takeover fraud and implementing protection measures can protect against it.

Protectumus provides Two Factor Authentication and Multi Factor Authentication services that enables Account Takeover Protection for all of its users, for both free and also premium users.
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