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What is Authorisation?

Credential stuffing is a cyberattack method where attackers use large volumes of stolen username and password combinations, typically acquired from data breaches, to gain unauthorised access to user accounts on various online services. This attack exploits the common practice of individuals reusing the same credentials across multiple sites.

How Credential Stuffing Works

Attackers obtain large sets of stolen credentials from previous data breaches. These credentials are often available for purchase on the dark web or can be found in publicly available databases. Using automated tools and scripts, attackers test these stolen credentials across a wide range of websites and online services. The tools can attempt thousands or millions of login attempts in a short period, targeting multiple accounts simultaneously. If users have reused the same credentials on different sites, the attackers can successfully log into those accounts. Once access is gained, attackers can steal sensitive information, conduct fraudulent transactions or further exploit the account for malicious activities.

Successful credential stuffing attacks can lead to account takeovers, where attackers gain control of user accounts. This can result in financial loss, unauthorised transactions, and identity theft. Organisations that fall victim to credential stuffing attacks may suffer reputational damage. Customers may lose trust in the company's ability to protect their personal information, potentially leading to a loss of business. The financial impact can be significant, including costs associated with fraud, remediation, legal fees and potential regulatory fines for failing to protect user data adequately.



Defense Mechanisms Against Credential Stuffing

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 
Implementing MFA adds an additional layer of security, requiring users to provide two or more forms of verification (e.g., a password and a one-time code sent to a mobile device). This significantly reduces the effectiveness of credential stuffing attacks.

Rate Limiting
Rate limiting restricts the number of login attempts from a single IP address or within a certain time frame, making it harder for automated tools to conduct large-scale credential stuffing attacks.

Credential Screening
Organisations can use credential screening services to check if user credentials have been exposed in previous data breaches. Users can be prompted to change their passwords if their credentials are found in breach databases.

Behavioural Analysis
Implementing behavioural analysis and anomaly detection can help identify unusual login patterns indicative of credential stuffing attacks. For instance, multiple failed login attempts from different IP addresses or geographic locations in a short period.

User Education
Educating users about the importance of using unique passwords for different accounts and encouraging the use of password managers to generate and store complex passwords can help mitigate the risk of credential stuffing.

Bot Mitigation
Employing advanced bot mitigation solutions can help identify and block automated credential stuffing attempts. These solutions use various techniques, such as CAPTCHA challenges and machine learning models, to differentiate between human users and bots.

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