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MFA Spamming – Push Notification Fatigue

MFA is one of the best ways to protect any of your online accounts as it acts as a second layer of protection along with passwords.

However, there’s a method hackers use, attempting to sign into your account even with MFA in place. 

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important method for protection on any online accounts you have, including Office 365. It acts as a second layer of security making it more difficult for cyber criminals to hack into.

If you’re not clued up about MFA or why you should have it enabled, we strongly advise that you read this article about the importance of 2FA.

What are MFA Fatigue Attacks?

Attackers have begun to look for ways to compromise accounts even when they have additional layers of security. One of these methods is known as MFA fatigue or push notification spamming.

MFA fatigue refers to the overload of prompts or notifications the victim would receive via MFA applications. Push notification spamming is the technique hackers are using to log into victims accounts. This method can be partially effective, not because of the technology in place, but because it targets human knowledge. If someone isn’t as educated about MFA, they are more likely to become a victim to these attacks so it’s important that you’re aware and familiar with this method, to make sure you don’t fall for it.

How does Push Notification Spamming work?

Once a hacker signs into the victim’s account via username/email and password, they start requesting an approval for sign in from the victims MFA app.

For most victims, they won’t be attempting a sign in themselves, so will decline the request. At this point, they might believe that there’s an error with the MFA application.

However, after the first decline, the hacker doesn’t stop trying, repeatedly spamming push notifications to the victim’s phone requesting sign in approval.

After an overwhelming amount of notifications, the victim might eventually approve, leading the hacker to successfully sign in and have access to personal information and data.

Push Notification Spamming Demonstration.

Here’s a quick video showing how Push notification spamming and MFA fatigue attacks work.

How to Avoid and Prevent MFA Spam Attacks

The most important thing when it comes to avoiding these MFA attacks is awareness and knowledge about cyber security. If you are aware that these types of attacks exist, you’re less likely to get caught out and become a victim.

Enable Passwordless Login

In Azure AD, you are able to setup passwordless login. This is another type of sign in verification however instead of approving sign in via a single button, you must match the correct number from one device on another. This means it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to verify the sign in unless you’re actually signing in yourself on another device.

With this method, as soon as one prompt has been sent, the hacker will not longer be able to send prompts through to the victims device.

Get in touch.

If you have any questions about 2FA or your business’ cyber security, get in touch with our team on 01158 244 824 or email using the button below.

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