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What are MFA Fatigue Attacks?

MFA Fatigue Attacks, also known as MFA Prompt Bombing, MFA Push Spam, or MFA Bombing, are social engineering tactics employed by cyber attackers to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA) security measures and gain unauthorized access to accounts. These attacks exploit human psychology, overwhelming users with a barrage of MFA prompts until they unwittingly approve one, often out of frustration, confusion, or sheer exhaustion.

MFA Fatigue Attacks Explained

MFA Fatigue Attacks leverage the reliance on MFA as an additional layer of security beyond traditional passwords. By bombarding users with a high volume of MFA prompts—typically push notifications to mobile devices—attackers exploit the tendency of users to eventually accept a prompt just to halt the bombardment. In some instances, attackers may impersonate trusted figures, such as IT support personnel, to deceive users into approving fraudulent MFA requests.


How MFA Fatigue Attacks Works

MFA Fatigue Attacks typically follow a series of steps:

  • The attacker gains access to the victim's login credentials through various means, such as phishing, credential stuffing, or malware.
  • Upon attempting to access the account, the attacker encounters the MFA prompt.
  • The attacker employs automated scripts or manual efforts to inundate the victim's mobile device with a continuous stream of push notifications requesting MFA approval.
  • The victim, overwhelmed by the persistent notifications, may eventually succumb to fatigue or confusion and inadvertently approve one of the MFA requests.
  • By bypassing the MFA, the attacker gains full access to the compromised account, potentially leading to data breaches or further unauthorized activity.


Examples of MFA Fatigue Attacks

  • Cisco: Threat actors utilized vishing (voice phishing) to obtain a Cisco employee's login credentials, subsequently employing social engineering tactics to convince the victim to accept an MFA push notification. This facilitated unauthorized access to Cisco's corporate systems.
  • Uber: An Uber contractor fell victim to a malware infection on their personal device, resulting in the theft of their login credentials. The attacker then executed an MFA fatigue attack, exploiting the victim's fatigue or confusion to gain access to multiple employee accounts within the Uber network.


What Role Does MFA Fatigue Attacks Play in Email Security?

MFA Fatigue Attacks pose a significant threat to email security, as email accounts often serve as gateways to sensitive information and communication channels. By compromising email accounts through MFA bypassing, attackers can launch phishing campaigns, distribute malware, or conduct further reconnaissance for targeted attacks.

How to Identify and Protect Against MFA Fatigue Attacks

Organizations can implement several strategies to detect and mitigate the risk of MFA Fatigue Attacks:

  • Educate users about the risks of MFA Fatigue Attacks and the importance of vigilance in verifying MFA prompts.
  • Monitor for unusual patterns of MFA requests, such as a sudden influx of requests within a short timeframe.
  • Implement advanced MFA solutions, such as FIDO/WebAuthn authentication or token-based MFA, to enhance resistance against phishing and social engineering tactics.
  • Employ email security solutions capable of detecting and blocking phishing attempts, malware, and suspicious activities related to MFA prompts.

IRONSCALES MFA Fatigue Attacks Prevention

IRONSCALES offers robust email security solutions designed to combat MFA Fatigue Attacks and other sophisticated threats. By integrating advanced threat detection capabilities with user awareness training and automated incident response, IRONSCALES empowers organizations to detect, mitigate, and prevent email-based attacks effectively.

By prioritizing the implementation of phishing-resistant MFA methods and promoting a security-first mindset among users, IRONSCALES enables organizations to strengthen their defenses against evolving cyber threats, including MFA Fatigue Attacks.

Learn more about IRONSCALES advanced anti-phishing platform here. Get a demo of IRONSCALES™ today!  https://ironscales.com/get-a-demo/

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