What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security? Shocking Cyber Criminal Technique 2024

What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security?

Just as you take the latest measures to protect your valuables, thieves also apply new tricks to steal them.

Cyber ​​world is also no different from this. Like other tools being used by cyber criminals, Credential Stuffing is also a weapon to steal data. Let’s see What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security? 

Credential stuffing is a type of cyber attack in which attackers use lists of previously stolen emails, user IDs and passwords to steal data.

What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security
Image source: Freepik

In other words, use of credentials stolen from people to steal data from other websites is called credential stuffing.

Generally hackers sell the stolen data on the dark web and other attackers buy that data from there and use it for this purpose.

Reasons For Increase In Credential Stuffing Incidents:

Following are the possible reasons for increasing incidents of credential stuffing:

  • Credential availability: In recent years, millions of usernames and passwords have been stolen or leaked. These credentials are sent for  purchase on digital marketplaces on the dark web. They can be used as a starting point for credential stuffing attacks as well as many other cyber attacks.
  • Technology Advancements: Credential stuffing attacks take advantage of bots or other intelligent automation tools to attempt to login to multiple accounts in a matter of seconds. Because these bots are programmed to test a specific user ID and password combination, the tool only attempts to log into a given system once. This allows the tool to bypass many traditional security measures, including measures that block IP addresses that have too many failed login attempts.
  • Difficulty in detection: In a successful credential stuffing attack, the adversary impersonates a legitimate user, such as an employee, contractor, or even a third-party supplier. This, coupled with the absence of malware or other attack vectors, makes a credential stuffing attack extremely difficult to detect through traditional cybersecurity protections.
  • The shift to remote work: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the remote workforce trend and left many companies unprepared to protect distributed networks. Attackers have taken advantage of this change and are using account credentials from personal accounts to attempt to access business devices and services.
  • Low barrier to entry: The level of technical skill required to launch a credential stuffing attack is extremely low. With approx  $50 USD, anyone with a computer can purchase a compromised account on the dark web and launch a credential stuffing attack.

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How Credential Stuffing Works?

  • Cyber attackers take benefits of stolen account credentials or purchase breached credentials via the dark web. These credentials are usually the result of a large-scale data breach or other cyber attack. In most cases, such information can be purchased for very little amount of money, for example only $50 approx.
  • With online account’s credentials, the attacker sets up a botnet or other automation tool to attempt to log into multiple unrelated accounts simultaneously. Typically, bots have a feature that corrupts IP addresses to avoid triggering security tools that might block foreign or unusual addresses.
  • The bot checks to see if access to any secondary services or accounts was granted. In case of successful login attempts, the cyber criminal can collect additional information, such as personal data, stored credit card information or bank details. Fraudsters may also be involved in a number of other scams or crimes, such as:
  • Selling access to compromised subscription accounts of streaming services, media outlets, gaming platforms, via the dark web.
  • Purchasing goods or services using compromised payment methods.
  • Performing an account takeover, which is when a competitor takes control of an account and changes security settings, contact information, and other details to more easily perform future activities.
  • Selling personal information obtained through customer accounts to promote phishing campaigns and support more advanced attack methods.
  • If hackers are able to enter the network of an institution or corporate sector through a compromised account as an employee, contractor, or vendor etc. then they can install backdoors and use them in the future. They can do it for gaining information about the system, to control it and  also for data theft. 

Since cyber criminals are using valid credentials, hence, it is very difficult to find credential stuffing attacks with traditional techniques.

What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security
Image source: Freepik

How Credential Stuffing Attack and Brute Force Attack Are Different:

Credential stuffing and brute-force attacks appear similar but they aren’t.

A brute-force attack occurs when a threat actor systematically attempts to gain access to sensitive data and systems by trying as many combinations of usernames and guessed passwords as possible.

Credential stuffing is similar to a brute-force attack in which an attacker attempts to gain unauthorized access to the system but with already compromised credentials.

Specificity of attack:

In a brute-force attack, the cyber attacker attempts to gain access by guessing the user ID, password, or both. Often, attackers use commonly used passwords or common phrases to inform their attempts. Generally, attacks are successful only if the user has chosen a popular and simple password, such as qwerty, password, or simple digits like 1234567.

In a credential stuffing attack, the adversary has possession of a user’s credentials for a given service and is attempting to use that information to access an unrelated network. 

For example, if a user’s cell phone service credentials are compromised in a data breach, cyber attackers can use that information to attempt to log into other utility services, banking sites, marketplaces or other digital accounts.

Attempts to access:

In a brute-force attack, the bot is usually programmed to try multiple combinations of user ID and password. Although these attacks have become more sophisticated and may be able to successfully bypass security measures, many times an excessive number of failed login attempts result in an IP address being blocked. 

This factor, combined with the lack of context in guessing credentials, makes brute force attacks much less successful than credential stuffing.

Credential stuffing attacks are much more specific. In such attacks, the bot tries a specific user ID and password on different sites. Since the tool does not perform multiple access attempts, such activity often remains unnoticed by most of the security tools.

Strength of password:

Since brute-force attacks attempt to gain access using a common, simple password, most of these attacks can be prevented by selecting strong and unique passwords.

In a credential stuffing cyber attack, password strength is not an issue because the cyber criminal is using credentials of  compromised accounts. Even the strongest password can be hacked if it is shared across multiple accounts.

How To Detect And Avoid Credential Stuffing:

Organizations must realize that traditional security best practices, like enforcing strong password requirements and keeping an eye out for repeated login attempts, will not be very helpful against this specific attack method in order to prevent credential stuffing attacks at the enterprise level. 

Nevertheless, there are a number of sensible actions that businesses can take to stop credential stuffing attacks and lessen their effects:

What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security
Image source: Freepik

Activate the MFA (multifactor authentication):

All users using multi-factor authentication (MFA) must authenticate their identities using multiple methods. This could involve using a combination of biometric verification, security tokens sent by text message or authenticator tool, and standard account credentials. Since attackers typically only have access to account credentials, organizations that enable multi-factor authentication are much more secure against credential stuffing attacks.

Put IT etiquette into practice:

An IT hygiene tool can identify potentially malicious admin activity by giving visibility into how credentials are used throughout the organization. Security teams can use the account monitoring feature to see if there are any accounts that attackers have created in order to keep access. Additionally, it will make sure that passwords are changed often, preventing the permanent use of credentials that have been stolen.

Proactive threat hunting should be added:

This allows for the constant search for unknown, covert attacks that use credentials that have been stolen and are carried out under the pretense of being carried out by authorized users. 

Train staff members about the dangers of using weak passwords:

It is nearly always possible to link credential stuffing attacks to a specific person who uses the same password for several different services. 

If a user uses the same password for multiple accounts, even with a strong password, they run the risk of having it compromised. Inform users of the value of not using the same password twice and other best practices for choosing secure, one-of-a-kind passwords. 

Use a discovery tool to find default passwords on devices that haven’t been changed, and provide a password manager to stop users from using simple passwords that they can easily remember.


Thus, in this article we saw what credential stuffing is in cyber security, why it happens and how it can be avoided.

That’s all my friends for today! I hope this will be valuable for you. You can reach me through the emails given below. I will love your valuable comments and feedback.


Abhijit Ranjan



4 thoughts on “What Is Credential Stuffing In Cyber Security? Shocking Cyber Criminal Technique 2024”

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