The 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) reveals that threat actors value credentials more than any other data type, including personal data such as Social Security numbers. Stolen credentials can lead to system intrusion, data exfiltration, malware infection, and many types of fraud. The same report finds that 80% of all basic web application attacks and at least 60% of all ransomware attacks rely on stolen credentials or brute force attacks. Credential stuffing attacks are a factor in 23% of security incidents in the organizations monitored for the report.
The most dangerous stolen credentials are those that remain active after they have been stolen. Attackers want to log into the targeted system as authenticated users. This allows them to traverse the systems as an authorized user and often extends the length of time they can hide from intrusion detection. Current credentials are especially important to nation-state actors and big-game hunters.
WAYS CREDENTIALS ARE USED IN CYBERATTACKS
Obsolete credentials may be less valuable, but there are still several ways for attackers to use old login information. This is underscored by the fact that stolen data is almost always sold to other attackers, and larger data sets are often sold at higher prices. Here are a few different ways that credentials are used in cyberattacks:
Unauthorized Access: The most obvious use of a credential set is unauthorized access. Criminals use the login information to access a system and proceed with the attack.
Credential Stuffing: This is an automated attack that attempts to log into web applications by rotating through sets of stolen credentials. It doesn’t matter if the credentials are current or outdated, because the credential set is being used on many different web applications.
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