Anatomy of an Attack

Account takeover-based email attacks are among the toughest to detect—and the most devastating. Launched from compromised accounts of legitimate users, these attacks prey on the trust established amongst individuals.

Initial Compromise

Cybercriminals collect email account credentials or user client access via phishing attacks or purchase credentials via the dark web.

Phase 2
Establish Persistence

The attacker logs into the compromised account and changes account passwords or sets up a mail forwarder to establish control.

Phase 3
Log In, Lay Low

The attacker monitors account activity and waits patiently to hijack important conversations amongst high-profile individuals.

Phase 4
Launch Attack

Most ATO-based phishing scams are aimed at harvesting more credentials, but attacks may involve a business email compromise scam or the spread of ransomware.

Phase 5
Reap Rewards

Depending on the con, credentials are captured, sensitive data is ransacked, or stolen funds are retrieved—all while making it appear that the attack is coming from a legitimate user.

What is Account Takeover?

Behind the Scenes of an Account Takeover

Paul Chavez, Senior Product Marketing Manager, discusses how email account takeover factors into other business email compromise and spear-phishing attacks.

The Agari Advantage

Account Takeover Discovery

Detecting unauthorized users in legitimate email accounts or user clients is critical to defending against account takeover-based attacks.

Agari understands the complex information behind the email message and analyzes expected behaviors between sender and recipient to accurately determine if a message from a previously-established email account should be trusted. With protection for both internal and outbound email, Agari provides 360° security for all advanced threats.


white papers
White Paper
Protecting Against Account Takeover-Based Email Attacks
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analyst research
Analyst Research
Osterman Research: Solving Phishing, BEC, Account Takeovers and More
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Identity Deception Prevention

Convincing people into downloading malware or logging into a fake website is core to an ATO-based attack. Identity deception makes it difficult for the victim to know if the sender has malicious intent, and advanced attacks hijack the conversation at appropriate times so the recipient never suspects anything.

By understanding good email sending behaviors, Agari can spot anomalies and patterns that differ from the norm. Emails can be blocked based on the severity of divergence to ensure untrusted email never reaches the inbox.

Growing Smarter Every Day

It’s not enough to react and detect attacks from a compromised account, but to prevent and deter them before they strike. The Agari Identity Graph™ predicts attacks based on understanding the identity and relationships behind the message and on how closely a new message correlates or deviates from known good email communications.

Even though your business may not have seen a threat, Agari likely has. And because it’s at work already protecting organizations worldwide, it grows smarter and more effective each day.

Simulated Product Demonstration

Try this simulated product demonstration to see why companies including Allergan, Comcast, and Informatica use Agari Phishing Defense™ to protect their inboxes.

Featured Products

Agari Phishing DefenseTM

Stop sophisticated identity deception threats including business email compromise, executive spoofing, and account takeover-based attacks.

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Agari Phishing ResponseTM

Accelerate phishing incident triage, forensics, remediation, and breach containment for the security operations center.

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Account Takeover: The Evolution of Advanced Cyberattacks

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Mail Letter

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