Media industry lost 17 billion in credential stuffing attacks

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Cambridge, USA: Media industry lost 17 billion in credential stuffing attacks between January 2018 and December 2019, as per Akamai‘s new report.

Twenty percent of the 88 billion total credential stuffing attacks observed during the reporting period targeted media companies, revealed the Akamai 2020 State of the Internet / Credential Stuffing in the Media Industry report.

Media companies are an attractive target for criminals as the report found that there’s a 63% year-over-year increase in attacks against the video media sector.

Attacks against broadcast TV and video sites jumped 630% and 208% year-over-year respectively. At the same time, attacks targeting video services are up 98%, while those against video platforms dropped by 5%.

The marked uptick in attacks aimed at broadcast TV and video sites appear to coincide with an explosion of on-demand media content in 2019.

In addition, two major video services launched last year with heavy support from consumer promotions. These types of sites and services are well aligned to the observed goals of the criminals who target them.

Much of the value in media industry accounts lies in the potential access to both compromised assets, like premium content, along with personal data according to Steve Ragan, Akamai Security Researcher and author of the State of the Internet / Security report.

“We’ve observed a trend in which criminals are combining credentials from a media account with access to stolen rewards points from local restaurants and marketing the nefarious offering as ‘date night’ packages,” Ragan said

“Once the criminals get a hold of the geographic location information in the compromised accounts, they can match them up to be sold as dinner and a movie,” he added.

Video sites are not the sole focus of credential stuffing attacks within the media industry, however. The report noted a staggering 7,000% increase in attacks targeting published content.

Newspapers, books and magazines sit squarely within the sights of cybercriminals, indicating that media of all types appear to be fair game when it comes to these types of attacks.

US topped as the credential stuffing attacks source against media companies with 1.1 billion in 2019, a 162% jump over 2018. France and Russia were a distant second and third with 3.9 million and 2.4 million attacks, respectively.

India, was the most targeted country in 2019, enduring with 2.4 billion credential stuffing attacks. It was followed by the US at 1.4 billion and the UK at 124 million.

“As long as we have usernames and passwords, we’re going to have criminals trying to compromise them and exploit valuable information,” Ragan explained.

Password sharing and recycling according to Ragan are easily the two largest contributing factors in credential stuffing attacks.

He said that educating consumers on good credential hygiene is critical to combating these attacks. But it’s up to the businesses to deploy stronger authentication methods and identify the right mix of technology, policies and expertise to help protect customers without adversely impacting the user experience.

Q1 2020 Update
Publication of the Akamai 2020 State of the Internet / Credential Stuffing in the Media Industry report was delayed from April to July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The extra time allowed Q1 2020 data to be added to the original report.

Most notably, European video service providers and broadcasters faced a large spike in malicious login attempts in the Q1, 2020. One attack in late March, after many isolation protocols had been instituted, directed nearly 350,000,000 attempts against a single service provider over a 24-hour period.

A famous broadcaster across from the region was hit with a barrage of attacks during the quarter with peaks that ranged in billions.

Another noteworthy trend during the first quarter was the number of criminals sharing free access to newspaper accounts. Often offered as self-promotional vehicles, credential stuffing campaigns must still be initiated in order to steal the working username and password combinations that are given away.

A decline in the cost of stolen account credentials over the course of the quarter, which traded around $1 to $5 initially and $10 to $45 for package offers of multiple services, observed Akamai researchers.. Those prices fell as new accounts and lists of recycled credentials populated the market.

(Image source – Akamai)

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