Tell-Tale Signs That Your Accounts are Likely to be Hacked

It’s easier to hack accounts now than ever before. 


We sign up for a lot of websites and log into various accounts for business and private purposes.


Cybercriminals are not just focused on getting only your online bank account credentials, either. They know you might use the same passwords all over different accounts. There are plenty of options where they can find your sensitive information.


You might even hand over some information to cybercriminals without realizing it. In a phishing scam, cybercriminals can impersonate a person you trust — like your boss or even a bank.


Anyone can find malicious codes to hack passwords or purchase hacking services online. Threat actors aren’t only tech-savvy hackers, but anyone that can find and use hacking methods they stumbled upon online.  


What should you know about account takeover fraud prevention, and what are some of the signs that your account might already be vulnerable to potential attacks? How can you stop an account takeover for fraud prevention?


We discover how to protect yourself from cybercriminals below.


Your Credentials Have Already Been Exposed in Previous Breaches


When we think about hacking, we imagine cybercriminals who are using malicious codes and targeting our organization or individual devices. 


In reality, your credentials might already be out in the open, available for everyone to use to get into your accounts. Hackers might not even need to “hack” your device, but get into your account by using the data that is already available to them.


After breaches that have gathered information about a lot of individuals or organizations, the data might not be used right away — at least not right after the breach. After a month or even a year, hackers use bots to test if the passwords they have found still work. 


Your passwords and sensitive data might be shared around on the dark web or be in the data dumps available for anyone to use. 


It’s important to discover this early and change your passwords — before someone uses this data to get into your personal accounts.


One way to check if your credentials have already been stolen in previous breaches is via the site Have I Been Pwned.


The site is safe to use because it has been developed by cybersecurity experts. Even some governments use it to check if their data has been exposed in the latest breaches. 


If your email or passwords have been exposed in known breaches, change your password to a stronger one.


You Reuse Passwords for Multiple Accounts


Using your password for more than one account is likely to get you hacked. If cybercriminals get one of your passwords, they can get into any other account that you use and log into with the same credentials.


Cybercriminals will try to use the password they have on different sites until they find a match. 


For people who can’t remember multiple complex passwords, a handy alternative is using a password manager. That way, you just need to remember one password, and you’ll have unique and strong credentials for all of your accounts.


Your Password Is Weak


Secure and complex passwords can’t be easily cracked. A strong password is unique, and it’s difficult to guess because it isn’t something memorable.


To make sure they’re strong, use a password that has at least 16 characters and includes different symbols, upper and lowercase letters, and random numbers.


Your password is weak if it: 


  • Isn’t long enough — the longer the password is, the more secure it is
  • Contains words that can be traced back to you — including names, birthdates, anniversaries, etc.
  • Has a common number order, such as 123456789 
  • Uses words from a dictionary — hackers can cross-compare it with a dictionary while cracking it.


You Don’t Have Trustworthy Anti-Malware on Your Devices


Cybercriminals use keyloggers to get sensitive information such as your password. A keylogger is malicious software that you might not even know is there. 


It runs in the background and remembers everything you do on your computer by logging each stroke, waiting for the one that types in your password. 


Everything the keylogger logs is sent to the cybercriminal that can use the information to get into your accounts.


Reliable antivirus software can detect and remove malicious activity such as key logging by deleting malware from your computer.


Pro tip: Some devices already have built-in protection. For example, you might already have Windows Defender, which is more reliable and works better than most free antivirus software. 


You Reject Updates


Are you delaying updates to infinity? 


Using outdated versions of programs on your computer will make your device less secure. Also, with the new version, you might avoid some issues that have been fixed in the older version of the software.


Companies request updates because they have found mistakes and flaws in their systems. Updates are improved versions of their services. 


Not accepting updates means you remain exposed to the threats they fixed in the most recent update.


How to Prevent an Account Takeover?


Both companies and individuals are worried about the safety of the accounts for which they’re responsible. 


Companies can prevent account takeovers (AKA stolen credentials) with the required two-step authentication. Tools that scan and detect suspicious activity as well as mitigate malware before it does any significant damage are also necessary to detect threats on time.


To protect more complex systems and networks to which customers and employees are signing in daily, such as web applications, it’s important to have specific tools that protect you from automated account fraud.


Employee training that covers basic cybersecurity hygiene can go a long way, and it doesn’t have to break the budget of your company. 


Individuals can focus on having strong passwords, not using them for multiple accounts, and having reliable antivirus that can detect and mitigate malware from their computer.


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