ATOs on the Rise: Let Trusted Providers Step In

October 4, 2023
Access Tech: Is your company prepared for an ATO attack?

A catering company owner in Kettering, Ohio started receiving odd emails and text messages about packages she never ordered, insurance premiums she did not authorize, and more. The owner was unsure about what may be the cause, until other people on her small staff started experiencing similar problems. 

This experience taught her the value a trusted partner can bring to her business. “My husband did all the tech basics. I didn’t think a hacker would be interested in me; I thought they just went after the government.” 

But even though the business has nothing in common with a government installation or healthcare facility, some of her clients were in those industries. The hackers were trying to use the owner’s credential to get into sensitive data. 

The true impact of ATOs 

Her company had been the victim of an account takeover attack (ATO). An ATO is a cybercrime where an attacker gains unauthorized access to a victim’s account. Once the attacker has access, they can use it to make unauthorized transactions, such as transferring money, making purchases, or changing account settings. ATOs are an increasingly common form of attack. From 2021 to 2022 – attacks increased 121 percent.  

After the incidents, she hired a local trusted partner to come in and clean up the mess and lock down the catering company’s cybersecurity to prevent future problems. An ATO can happen to anyone with a vulnerability in their security. “My passwords were horrible. Our trusted partner stays on top of that now,” the owner notes. 

It all comes down to basic cyber hygiene 

Have strong passwords and don’t reuse them. A strong password is at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, adding that you should have different strong passwords for other accounts. 

Despite the skyrocketing numbers, protection against ATOs comes down to basic cyber hygiene. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second factor. That is especially important to ward off an ATO. 

Trusted partners need to teach small business owners to be careful about what links and attachments are opened. Contact us at Access Tech where we’ve been helping clients for over a decade stay protected and mitigate the fallout of an attack.  

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