201-896-4100 info@sh-law.com

What’s a Credential Stuffing Cyberattack and Is Your Business Vulnerable?

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck|March 1, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced the results of an investigation into “credential stuffing”, which uncovered 1.1 million compromised accounts from several cyberattacks

What’s a Credential Stuffing Cyberattack and Is Your Business Vulnerable?

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced the results of an investigation into “credential stuffing”, which uncovered 1.1 million compromised accounts from several cyberattacks

What’s a Credential Stuffing Cyberattack and Is Your Business Vulnerable?

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced the results of an investigation into “credential stuffing”, which uncovered 1.1 million compromised accounts from cyberattacks on 17 well-known companies, including online retailers, restaurant chains, and food delivery services. Most of the impacted businesses were not aware of the attacks until they were notified by the New York Office of the Attorney General (NYOAG). 

The companies then notified impacted customers. Given that most of the attacks had not previously been detected, the NYOAG worked with the companies to determine how attackers had circumvented existing safeguards and provided recommendations for strengthening their data security programs.

In light of its investigation, the OAG issued new guidance on steps businesses can take to better protect against credential stuffing attacks. “Right now, there are more than 15 billion stolen credentials being circulated across the internet, as users’ personal information stands in jeopardy,” Attorney General James said in a press statement. “Businesses have the responsibility to take appropriate action to protect their customers’ online accounts and this guide lays out critical safeguards companies can use in the fight against credential stuffing. We must do everything we can to protect consumers’ personal information and their privacy.”

According to the NYOAG, credential stuffing has become one of the most common types of cyberattacks. It involves repeated attempts to log in to online accounts using usernames and passwords stolen from other, unrelated online services. The attacks capitalize on the fact that many of us are guilty of reusing our passwords on multiple websites.

In most cases, cybercriminals submit hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of login attempts using automated, credential-stuffing software and lists of stolen credentials found on dark web or hacking forums. While only a fraction of these attempts are successful, a single attack can still compromise thousands of accounts. Once hackers access an account, they can view personal information associated with the account and use it to launch a phishing attack. If the account has a stored credit card or gift card, they may be able to make fraudulent purchases. Alternatively, cybercriminals may sell the login credentials to another individual on the dark web.

What Should Businesses Do to Protect Themselves?

The NYOAG’s Bureau of Internet and Technology also made specific recommendations that can help all businesses reduce the risk of a credential stuffing cyberattack. While the Business Guide for Credential Stuffing Attacks acknowledges that such attacks may be unavoidable, it advises that businesses that maintain online customer accounts should have safeguards in place to deter, detect and respond to credential stuffing incidents.

As detailed by the NYOAG’s Report: 

  • Three safeguards were found to be highly effective at defending against credential stuffing attacks when properly implemented: bot detection services; multi-factor authentication; and password-less authentication.
  • Because no safeguard is 100 percent effective, it is critical that businesses have an effective way of detecting attacks that have bypassed other defenses and compromised customer accounts. Most credential stuffing attacks can be identified by monitoring customer traffic for signs of attacks (for example, spikes in traffic volume of failed login attempts).
  • One of the most effective safeguards for preventing attackers from using customers’ stored payment information is re-authentication at the time of purchase by, for example, requiring customers to re-enter a credit card number or security code. It is critically important that re-authentication be required for every method of payment that a business accepts. The NYOAG encountered many cases in which attackers were able to exploit gaps in fraud protection by making a purchase using a payment method that did not require re-authentication.
  • Businesses should have a written incident response plan that includes processes for responding to credential stuffing attacks. The processes should include investigation (e.g., determining whether and which customer accounts were accessed), remediation (e.g., blocking attackers’ continued access to impacted accounts), and notice (e.g., alerting customers whose accounts were reasonably likely to have been impacted).

Key Takeaway

Given the rise in cyberattacks involving credential stuffing, businesses should take steps to verify that their data security programs include effective safeguards for protecting customers from such attacks. It is equally important to have procedures in place to detect a credential stuffing breach, as well as an incident response plan should an attack occur.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Maryam Meseha, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

What’s a Credential Stuffing Cyberattack and Is Your Business Vulnerable?

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck
What’s a Credential Stuffing Cyberattack and Is Your Business Vulnerable?

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently announced the results of an investigation into “credential stuffing”, which uncovered 1.1 million compromised accounts from cyberattacks on 17 well-known companies, including online retailers, restaurant chains, and food delivery services. Most of the impacted businesses were not aware of the attacks until they were notified by the New York Office of the Attorney General (NYOAG). 

The companies then notified impacted customers. Given that most of the attacks had not previously been detected, the NYOAG worked with the companies to determine how attackers had circumvented existing safeguards and provided recommendations for strengthening their data security programs.

In light of its investigation, the OAG issued new guidance on steps businesses can take to better protect against credential stuffing attacks. “Right now, there are more than 15 billion stolen credentials being circulated across the internet, as users’ personal information stands in jeopardy,” Attorney General James said in a press statement. “Businesses have the responsibility to take appropriate action to protect their customers’ online accounts and this guide lays out critical safeguards companies can use in the fight against credential stuffing. We must do everything we can to protect consumers’ personal information and their privacy.”

According to the NYOAG, credential stuffing has become one of the most common types of cyberattacks. It involves repeated attempts to log in to online accounts using usernames and passwords stolen from other, unrelated online services. The attacks capitalize on the fact that many of us are guilty of reusing our passwords on multiple websites.

In most cases, cybercriminals submit hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of login attempts using automated, credential-stuffing software and lists of stolen credentials found on dark web or hacking forums. While only a fraction of these attempts are successful, a single attack can still compromise thousands of accounts. Once hackers access an account, they can view personal information associated with the account and use it to launch a phishing attack. If the account has a stored credit card or gift card, they may be able to make fraudulent purchases. Alternatively, cybercriminals may sell the login credentials to another individual on the dark web.

What Should Businesses Do to Protect Themselves?

The NYOAG’s Bureau of Internet and Technology also made specific recommendations that can help all businesses reduce the risk of a credential stuffing cyberattack. While the Business Guide for Credential Stuffing Attacks acknowledges that such attacks may be unavoidable, it advises that businesses that maintain online customer accounts should have safeguards in place to deter, detect and respond to credential stuffing incidents.

As detailed by the NYOAG’s Report: 

  • Three safeguards were found to be highly effective at defending against credential stuffing attacks when properly implemented: bot detection services; multi-factor authentication; and password-less authentication.
  • Because no safeguard is 100 percent effective, it is critical that businesses have an effective way of detecting attacks that have bypassed other defenses and compromised customer accounts. Most credential stuffing attacks can be identified by monitoring customer traffic for signs of attacks (for example, spikes in traffic volume of failed login attempts).
  • One of the most effective safeguards for preventing attackers from using customers’ stored payment information is re-authentication at the time of purchase by, for example, requiring customers to re-enter a credit card number or security code. It is critically important that re-authentication be required for every method of payment that a business accepts. The NYOAG encountered many cases in which attackers were able to exploit gaps in fraud protection by making a purchase using a payment method that did not require re-authentication.
  • Businesses should have a written incident response plan that includes processes for responding to credential stuffing attacks. The processes should include investigation (e.g., determining whether and which customer accounts were accessed), remediation (e.g., blocking attackers’ continued access to impacted accounts), and notice (e.g., alerting customers whose accounts were reasonably likely to have been impacted).

Key Takeaway

Given the rise in cyberattacks involving credential stuffing, businesses should take steps to verify that their data security programs include effective safeguards for protecting customers from such attacks. It is equally important to have procedures in place to detect a credential stuffing breach, as well as an incident response plan should an attack occur.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Maryam Meseha, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

Firm News & Press Releases