What Is Credential Stuffing and How it Works
Credential stuffing is a technique that hackers use to gain access to accounts on websites. They do this by using botnets to try different username and password combinations until they find one that works. This can be very dangerous for businesses, as it can give hackers access to sensitive data or even disrupt the operations of the website. In this blog post, we will discuss what credential stuffing is and how you can protect yourself from it.
What is Credential Stuffing?
Credential stuffing is a type of hacking that uses automated botnets to try different username and password combinations on websites until they find one that works. Hackers will typically target websites that have a large number of users, such as social media sites or online retailers. Once they gain access to an account, they can then use it to steal sensitive data or disrupt the operations of the website.
How to Protect Yourself from Credential Stuffing
There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from credential stuffing:
1. Use a strong password: A strong password is one that is at least 8 characters long and includes a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
2. Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code from your phone or email in addition to your password.
3. Keep your software up to date: Regularly update the software on your computer and other devices to help protect against the latest security threats.
4. Monitor your account activity: Keep an eye on your account activity for any strange or unauthorised activity. If you see something suspicious, report it to the website or service right away.
By following these tips, you can help protect yourself from credential stuffing and other types of hacking. Listen to our team talk about how credential stuffing works and what they have experienced. To protect yourself further from illegal access to accounts, check out our Credential Exposure Feature.
Welcome to another Dark Invader Threat bytes episode. Today, Gavin and Liam will be discussing credential stuffing, which is a cyber attack method in which attackers use lists of compromised user credentials to breach into a system. So guys, do you want to talk more about this?
In many ways, it's a different way to attack portals, and it's kind of a natural progression from the way attackers separate the how approach things over time. And if, if you go back to hackers gaining access to companies and gaining access to networks, they can, they can extract password hashes, they can compromise the right systems. And then they can, they can attempt to find that the clear text password from that hash using offline techniques like these huge password cracking rigs and things and they can, they can go, unbelievably fast track trying to find me these these passwords, we're talking sort of 80 billion attempts per second, for example, in some cases. But if an attacker is trying to hack into a company remotely, so they don't have access to the network, they're in another country, and that they're attacking a company's public facing email login portal, or VPN, or something like that. The rate at which they can do attempts is really, really slow, relatively speaking, you know, if, if they had good bandwidth, if they had a good tool, and depending on the kind of portal, you know, you might be looking at, you know, 20 or 30 attempts per second if you're lucky. And so, you know, brute forcing, every possible combination is just not viable, it will take years centuries to do that. So, the attackers then started to use Word Lists, you know, passwords that someone's likely to have to use, because they're going to go through small lists with the B type being. So very slow. And this is becoming even less viable now that the people are moving starting to slowly move away from passwords, to using passphrases. And things like password managers. So as it became more difficult, you know, it's the kind of the classic cat and mouse thing that you know, they think things are more difficulty attackers find a different way of doing things a different approach. And so this is where kind of credential stuffing came in. And it makes a lot of sense, in a way. And what the attackers are essentially doing is that rather than trying to brute force be every combination or word lists, they're finding leaked credentials. So these are companies that have been hacked, that have their, their passwords and hashes have been obtained by an attacker, then that attacker may or may not have sold them. But they are otherwise accessible on the dark web. And so these burst, hackers are getting access to that information. And using these these credentials, they don't have to make the attempts they have the actual luck, live credentials ready to go. The catch, of course, is that these leaked credentials are associated with a particular company, the company that was hacked. However, people still reuse passwords, they still do it extensively, and people still are not using password managers consistently. And so it may be a quite an insignificant, so to speak, company that was hacked, SSH, a small, small business. But if the user has reused that same password on a different company like Amazon or PayPal or something like that, then you know the credentials are going to work and and people may not necessarily reuse the exact same password, but they can still increment the numbers or dates on the end. So if these leaks show that a user has London 2021, the attacker is going to try and and 2022 as the password for example. And I remember reading about an experiment. Years and years ago, where there was a website, it was giving away vouchers online for free. All you had to do to get hold of these free vouchers was to register just with a username and password of your choosing. So people did and then the whole idea of this experiment was to see whether the usernames and passwords people chose were reused. And in the vast majority of cases they were the people that gave one These vouchers found that these credentials that were being used were reused on the likes of PayPal and, and Facebook. And getting hold of these these stolen credentials as well is, is scary, scarily easily? Easy.
I think, you know, Liam, you obviously, work with a dark web, you've done a lot of work with, you know, with the team kind of looking into this. And I think you, you know, more than most how easy it is to get hold of this information.
Yeah, it's just to reiterate, it is scarily easy to gain gain access to this information. Even not, before you've even attempted to reach out any kind of close community before you've had to build up any trust with any threat actor, you can get between 10 to 20 million leaked passwords for very, very cheap or even for free, offer forums that appear on the clear net, we haven't even gone into what happens on the dark net, and, or even from telegram groups. So all you need is a mobile number. And before you know it, you've got millions of people's leaked passwords at your fingertips. And collecting them is, as I said, they're going on from that once you do start to build up those trust relationships with with kind of nefarious individuals on on closed forums, the access to these credentials just gets larger and larger. It's incredibly easy to keep finding these to find even more of these passwords later, dark in beta we have in raw data and raw text files, billions and billions of these, these credentials that we've made with APR been able to collect and that number is growing every day, every time a business gets hacked. And it appears news or even when it doesn't. A lot of time, after a period of a couple of weeks after the threat actors have been busy selling it to the highest bidder. Generally, they will end up on these forums these marketplaces for for pennies, literally for pennies.
For about three or four pounds, you can buy the large, large amount of data called the collections breaches, which contains hundreds and hundreds of millions of leaked credentials. And given that it is so cheap, it's encrypted, then you can start using these, as a as Gavin was was just saying that you can use these against login portals, you can start to tie people's email addresses together. If somebody's got if you've got a simple valid username enumeration, or nobility on the login portal or website, and you can prove that this email address does have a valid account while then you can just go to all the data you've collected for incredibly cheap and rather reasonably, under see if one of their passwords appears in these lists. And if it does, then again, chances are, either it will be the same password or will be the same password with an exclamation mark on the end. Or they'll have done a bit of character substitution. Or if it's Christmas 2021 It will be Christmas 2022. These are simply and very simple patterns that people like to use to. To, to modify their passwords to ask and things go on under the pretence that because they've changed, it will be quite hard to crack. I think an excellent example of this as we were I was having a conversation with a friend and his girlfriend at the time and trying to explain to them. I'm not quite sure how we got onto this, but I'm trying to explain to them why secure passwords were so strong. And she said, Well, I've got a very strong password, it's a bit of a sentence. And it actually appeared in one of the leaked text files. And we were able to find this root password length.
And is completely bypassed by credential stuffing. If you're using it for more than one service, it doesn't matter if it's 10 characters long or 100 characters long to the same password still going to be discoverable, indexable and ultimately able to be replayed against different services. And that's where things like password managers or online services like Have I been cloned really come into their own so you're able to understand whether that data has been leaked, and then proactively mitigate against it. Well, proactively in the sense of a password manager that doesn't let you reuse passwords, or reactively, in the sense of have I been poned. So you're not reusing those or you understand exactly what your digital footprint looks like insofar as passwords are out there are Darth Invader obviously has a relationship with a with a pentesting firm, and they utilise our data collecting as well when you borrow a tool called thena. Now, but finding it very simply just searches up for a domain in these leaked passwords. And all it does is it takes that domain turns off request and pulls back all the leaked passwords. So we can really quickly build password brute forcing lists or spraying lists or valid username enumeration lists based on accounts that we know of already delayed. This cuts down, brute force in times massively gap, you alluded to that earlier, you used to be, you'd have to either guess or take a password list or just try and brute force using A and then A and then A, B, and so on and so forth. And now, you can cut a lot of that out and immediately jumped to trying to brute force the way and in fact, over the past X number of penetration tests that are out of our partner has performed, credential stuffing has led to more account compromise than social engineering. Standard bruteforcing combined, which hopefully hopefully highlights exactly how powerful it is.
In terms of what, what a business can do to mitigate the risk of this. I think from from a business's perspective, what where the where the risk is, is if an employee has registered on a website using a business email address, and they might have done this out of habit, because they type it in so often or maybe accidental, or maybe their personal account wasn't working at that time, and they just wanted to register it for whatever reason that they may have used, that their business email, and password. And so the business needs to know if these credentials are out there if they are in leaks, if they are accessible to to attackers. And so you know, there are there are solutions out there, such as Dark Invader beta plug there that can limit because search for these these domains and these email addresses just to see if there is a risk and then it then you can do something about it, you can get those password change, you can revisit the policies and user awareness training. And then as well, it's the basics. It's, you know, understanding your public facing infrastructure is checking every single portal, does it have two factor authentication, and really focusing on any that could give access to the corporate systems like VPNs? And things like email portals? I mean, I was I was speaking with one, one client quite a while ago, and we're talking about implemented two factor authentication on I think it was an Outlook Web Access Portal. And they said, something along the lines of when we're not doing it, I mean, you know, who because nobody else is or something like that. They came, they did get breached, if it did get hacked, you know, would they? Would they seriously go to the board and say that they didn't do it because they didn't think anyone else was doing it. So yes, it's really, really important to to, to check all the all those those kind of main targets that the attackers are going to be focusing on with these, these stolen credentials.
I think individuals kind of harken back to what we were mentioning earlier. Again, services like Have I been poned are incredibly powerful. And reasonably unsafe to put your email address in as well run by some very reputable leaves, currently one of the security team at Microsoft that actually maintains the database there. And that can help you. Again, understand whether there anything's out there, whether you do need to start either changing passwords on services, if you do notice any in there that are the same. And also a password manager. There are free versions out there, which are very good. There's also paid versions, for a couple of quid a month, you can have usernames and password generation, every password of yours is unique. Every password is is very strong. It's not going to be appear in any of these word lists. Again, these automatically generated passphrases or just 40 or 50 characters have kind of randomness that there would never appear in any time password list, or if somebody was attempting to brute force it, especially with the restriction is probably some kind of the HTTP protocol. You're looking at centuries, if not millennia, before you were out would ever be able to legitimately straight brute force, any kind of password like that. And that really is what kind of the, the most an individual can do. Try to be proactive with a password manager. And remember to be reactive by checking services like Have I been poned?
Well, thank you both for talking about credential stuffing and what businesses can do to keep safe. Stay tuned for next week Dark Invader episode. Thank you