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Threat Breakdown: Credential Stuffing

Understanding Credential Stuffing Attacks

Credential stuffing is a cyberattack technique where cybercriminals use previously stolen username and password combinations to gain unauthorized access to other online accounts. Attackers take advantage of the fact that many people reuse passwords across multiple websites and services. Once a cybercriminal successfully logs in using these stolen credentials, they can wreak havoc by stealing personal information, committing fraud, or carrying out other malicious activities.

While you are required to protect all of your accounts, this initial foothold only requires one compromised account to successfully authenticate.

How Does Credential Stuffing Work?

As shown in the image below from CloudFlare, the first step in the process is for the cybercriminal to obtain stolen credentials – this is a simple task for those who know where to look. With this collection of usernames, passwords, and potentially other stolen information, the cybercriminal has options to dig deeper into these passwords to see if there are patterns or simple variations that can be created for a more successful attack. With the list of stolen credentials in hand, the cybercriminal leverages a network of bots to run automated authentication attempts with the lists of credentials. With tools today, these cybercriminals are able to automatically attempt to login with stolen credentials to many different sites simultaneously.


The Alarming Statistics

Let’s look at some alarming statistics to illustrate the scope of the credential stuffing problem:

  • Frequency: According to a 2022 report by Okta, credential stuffing attacks account for 34% of all login attempts. This staggering figure highlights the sheer volume of these attacks and their pervasive nature.
  • Success Rate: Research indicates that credential stuffing attacks have a success rate ranging from 0.1% to 2%, depending on the targeted website or service. This may seem low, but considering the massive number of daily attempts, even a small success rate can result in a significant number of compromised accounts.
  • Financial Impact: A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that credential stuffing attacks cost businesses an estimated $6 million annually.

Why Credential Stuffing Works

Several factors contribute to the effectiveness of credential stuffing attacks:

  • Password Reuse: Human nature often drives individuals to reuse passwords across multiple accounts for convenience. When one of these passwords is compromised, it can unlock access to various other accounts.
  • Automated Tools: Cybercriminals use sophisticated automated tools that can rapidly try numerous username and password combinations on various websites. These tools exploit the efficiency of automation to carry out attacks at scale.
  • Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Many online services still do not require or enforce MFA, which could significantly bolster security by adding an additional layer of authentication beyond just a password.

Defending Against Credential Stuffing

Now that we understand the severity of the credential stuffing problem, let’s explore effective defense strategies:

  • Educate Users: Encourage users to create strong, unique passwords for each account and emphasize the dangers of password reuse. Awareness is the first line of defense.
  • Implement MFA: Enforce multi-factor authentication wherever possible to create an additional hurdle for attackers. Statistics show that accounts with MFA are significantly less likely to be compromised.
  • Rate Limiting and CAPTCHA: Implement rate limiting to limit the number of login attempts from a single IP address. Additionally, CAPTCHAs can help differentiate between human users and automated bots.
  • Monitoring and Anomaly Detection: Regularly monitor login attempts and employ anomaly detection systems to spot unusual login patterns, which may indicate a credential stuffing attack in progress.
  • Password Managers: Encourage users to utilize reputable password managers that generate and store complex passwords securely.

Credential stuffing attacks are a pervasive threat in today’s digital landscape. The alarming statistics demonstrate the scale of the problem and its significant financial and personal implications. By understanding the nature of these attacks and implementing robust security measures, individuals and organizations can better protect themselves against this ever-evolving threat. At NonaSec, we go beyond understanding these attacks—we provide solutions. Our dark web monitoring service offers a proactive approach, enabling you to change compromised credentials before adversaries can exploit them. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and ensure your digital security with NonaSec.

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