What are leaked credentials? (include the type of credentials and which accounts they come from)
Leaked credentials refer to the unauthorized dissemination and exposure of personal or organizational login information, including usernames, passwords, and other authentication details. These leaked credentials can come from various accounts, such as email, social media, banking, or corporate networks. The exposure occurs due to various reasons, including data breaches, infostealer infections, phishing and other cyberattacks , or the user’s negligence, leading to unauthorized access to sensitive and private data.
Why are leaked credentials in demand?
Leaked credentials are the primary way criminals gain access to corporate networks. They provide easy access to personal, financial, or organizational data. With these credentials, attackers can perpetrate account takeover, leading to identity theft, financial loss, data loss, and other forms of cybercrime. The information obtained can be packaged and sold to other criminals as combolists on the dark web to be used for automated ATO attempts, which is known as credential stuffing .
How do credentials get leaked?
Credentials can get leaked in several ways:
- Data Breaches: When an unauthorized individual gains access to confidential data, which often includes the user database and login credentials.
- Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals trick users into providing their login details by mimicking legitimate websites or communications.
- Malware: Infostealer malware is malicious software that infiltrates the user’s device to steal credentials, device and session cookies, auto-fill data, and much more from infected systems.
- SpyCloud 2023 Annual Identity Exposure Report shows that almost HALF of the compromised credentials recaptured from the darknet last year were exfiltrated from malware-infected devices.
- Weak Passwords: The use of easily guessable passwords makes it trivial for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
- Employee Negligence: Sharing passwords, writing them down, or careless handling can lead to unintended exposure.
What do threat actors use leaked credentials for?
Threat actors exploit leaked credentials to execute various types of malicious activities. Here are some common uses:
- Account Takeover: Threat actors leverage leaked credentials for account takeover (ATO), which grants unauthorized access to accounts, and can lead to identity theft, online fraud, and the compromise of sensitive data and secure systems.
- Financial Fraud: Leaked credentials can give criminals access to bank accounts, credit card accounts, and other financial resources – especially when they aren’t protected by 2FA – to steal money or make unauthorized transactions.
- Identity Theft: Threat actors can used leaked credentials and stolen PII to assume the identity of the victim for the purposes of fraud – impersonating consumers to open new lines of credit, reroute paychecks, purchase gift cards, steal benefits and much more.
What should I do if my credentials have been leaked?
With the frequency of data breaches in particular, preparing for a situation where your credentials are leaked is necessary for a quick and effective response. Credential exposure alerts will notify you immediately once your data is found in a new breach. Only once you’re aware of the exposure can you take steps to remediate the issue. This includes changing your password and enabling 2FA.
How does SpyCloud help organizations mitigate exposure if credentials are leaked?
SpyCloud helps organizations reduce the risk of targeted attacks that rely on leaked credentials by continuously monitoring your users for exposure in third-party breaches and infostealer malware infections – including compromised credentials, cookies and PII – to protect further harm to individuals, businesses, and personal and corporate data. SpyCloud’s next-generation threat intelligence services deliver immediate notifications and automated response directly within your application or through integrations with your security tools. These notifications power a Post-Infection Remediation framework to mitigate your risk of follow-on attacks like ransomware attacks, account takeover, session hijacking, and breaches.