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Defending Online Banking Platforms from Credential Stuffing Attacks

Kristen Bryce, Senior Product Marketing Manager


The rise of online banking platforms has brought unparalleled convenience to account holders and financial institutions alike. However, this digital shift also introduces substantial security risks, notably credential stuffing attacks. This cyber threat involves fraudsters using leaked usernames and passwords to gain unauthorized access to user accounts across various platforms. 


Recent research from Digital Shadows reveals a staggering volume of compromised data on the dark web, including more than 24 billion usernames and password combinations, equating to almost four per person globally. This alarming statistic highlights the extensive reach and scale of data breaches. Over the last decade, the use of stolen credentials has been implicated in nearly one-third (31%) of all data breaches, according to Verizon 2024 Data Breach Investigations Report. This trend underscores the critical need for enhanced security measures in online banking platforms, where strong, unique passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) must become standard practices to protect users from the growing risk of cyber theft and fraud.

Banks and credit unions, as custodians of both money and personal data, face significant challenges from these cyber-attacks. It’s crucial to explore the specific risks, opportunities, and best practices for these financial institutions to effectively combat credential stuffing and safeguard their account holders’ sensitive information.


Challenges for Banks and Credit Unions

The primary challenge for banks and credit unions in the face of credential stuffing is the protection of sensitive account holder information and financial assets. These institutions are high-value targets for cybercriminals due to the significant financial and data resources they hold. Credential stuffing attacks can lead to direct financial loss through unauthorized transactions and indirect costs associated with increased security investments and potential reputational damage.

The scale and automation of credential stuffing attacks compound the threat. Cybercriminals use sophisticated software that can test thousands of password combinations across multiple accounts in seconds, exploiting common user behaviors like password reuse. Financial institutions must constantly update and refine their security measures to keep pace with these evolving techniques by investing in advanced security technologies like MFA and machine learning algorithms that can detect unusual access patterns.


Opportunities Through Enhanced Cybersecurity Measures

Despite these challenges, tackling credential stuffing also presents opportunities for banks and credit unions to strengthen trust and competitiveness. By implementing cutting-edge security measures, financial institutions can enhance account holder confidence, underscoring their commitment to safeguarding user data and finances. This proactive stance on cybersecurity can serve as a key differentiator in a competitive market, potentially attracting customers or members who prioritize security in their banking choices.


Generation Z consumer preferences revealed privacy was more important to them than metrics such as speed.

(How Banks and Credit Unions Can Attract and Retain Gen Z, 2023)


Best Practices to Prevent Credential Stuffing

Combating credential stuffing requires a layered approach that includes both technological solutions and education. To effectively counter the threat of credential stuffing, banks and credit unions can adopt several best practices:


  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): One of the most effective defenses against credential stuffing is MFA, which requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to their accounts. This could include something they know (a password), something they have (a smartphone app), or something identifiable about the individual (biometric verification).
  • Bot Management: Deploying bot management tools, such as Cloudflare Turnstile, helps to detect and block automated traffic that can be a precursor to credential stuffing attacks. Cloudflare Turnstile offers a less intrusive user verification method that distinguishes between genuine users and automated systems, enhancing the user experience while maintaining security.
  • Advanced User Behavior Analytics: Implementing solutions, such as Appgate DetectTA and BioCatch Account Takeover Protection, that monitor risk-based transaction monitoring and user behavior can help detect unauthorized access and prevent fraudulent transactions. These systems can flag unusual activity, such as login attempts from unfamiliar locations or multiple failed logins, which are indicative of credential stuffing attempts.
  • Training and Education: Regularly informing account holders about the importance of unique passwords and the dangers of password reuse can mitigate the risk of credential stuffing. Banks and credit unions should promote the use of password managers and educate customers and members on creating strong, complex passwords.
  • Regular Security Audits and Updates: Continuous monitoring and regular auditing of security systems ensure that vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed promptly. Keeping security software up to date is crucial in defending against the latest cyber threats.
  • Collaboration and Information Sharing: Engaging in industry-wide collaborations can help banks and credit unions stay ahead of cybercriminals. Sharing information about recent attacks and emerging threats can empower institutions to better anticipate and respond to credential stuffing tactics.


Strengthening Defenses Against Cyber Threats

Credential stuffing poses a significant and growing threat to online banking platforms operated by banks and credit unions. By understanding the challenges and embracing the opportunities for enhanced security, these institutions can not only defend against these attacks and maintain their reputation but also strengthen their relationships with account holders. Adopting layered security measures, focusing on training and education, and participating in collaborative security initiatives are essential steps in creating a secure online banking environment. As these threats evolve, so too must the strategies to combat them, ensuring the protection of both account holder trust and financial assets.

Interested in learning how Alkami is helping banks and credit unions combat credential stuffing?
author avatar
Kristen Bryce
Kristen Bryce is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Alkami with expertise in commercial banking, treasury management, and security and fraud protection.
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