Smishing: A Whole New Level of Scams & Frauds
Smishing is a form of phishing that targets users of mobile devices. Attacks are carried out by criminals with the goal of obtaining personal data, such as credit card and/or social security numbers. Smishing is a type of assault that is carried out using SMS or text messages.
Short message service, or SMS as it is more popularly known, is used in smishing attacks. Due to the fact that people are more inclined to believe a message received through a messaging app on their phone than one sent via email, this type of attack has grown in popularity.
Despite the fact that many victims do not make the connection between phishing scams and private text messages, it is actually simpler for threat actors to locate your phone number than your email. Phone numbers have a limited range of possibilities; in the US, a phone number consists of 10 digits.
Contrast this to an email address, which has a decent amount of expected characters but is not constrained in size. Emails can contain letters, numbers, and symbols like !, #, and %. It is considerably simpler to connect with a victim using ten random digits than it is to use their email address.
Any string of digits the same length as a phone number can be sent messages to by the hacker. Without risk, they are free to test any and all digit combinations. Users read 98 percent of text messages, according to Gartner, and respond to 45 percent of them.
This makes text a highly obvious attack channel for hackers, especially given that, according to Gartner, only 6% of emails receive replies.
How does Smishing spread?
As previously mentioned, smishing attacks can be sent using both SMS and non-SMS messaging apps. However, because SMS phishing attempts are misleading in design, they frequently spread unchecked and undetected.
Users’ false sense of confidence in the security of text messages makes smishing deception more effective. To start, most people are aware of the dangers of email fraud. You’ve undoubtedly become accustomed to being wary of emails that start with, “Hi—check out this link.
” An important telltale sign of email spam schemes is the absence of a genuine personal message. People are less cautious when using their phones. Many people believe that smartphones are safer than desktops. However, smartphone security has its limitations and often cannot provide immediate protection from smishing.
These schemes ultimately only need your faith and a mistake in judgment to succeed, regardless of the methods employed. Smishing can therefore affect any mobile device that supports text messaging. iOS devices are equally vulnerable to malware, even though Android smartphones are the platform with the largest market share and are the most common targets.
Although the security of Apple’s iOS mobile technology is well-known, no mobile operating system can completely shield you from phishing-style attempts. Regardless of platform, a false sense of security can make users particularly susceptible.
You frequently use your smartphone while driving or walking, which increases the chance of an accident. This implies that when you receive a message asking for bank information or to use a coupon, you are more likely to let your guard down and answer hastily.
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Contemporary examples of Smishing
Apple iPhone 12 Early Access Scam: Order Confirm & Gift Smishing
A smishing effort surfaced in September 2020 to entice individuals into supplying credit card information in exchange for a free iPhone 12. The scam operates under the guise of an order confirmation, in which a text message says that a package delivery was made to the wrong address.
Targets are directed to a phishing tool posing as an Apple chatbot via the in-text URL link. In order to claim their free iPhone 12 as part of an early access trial programme, the victim is guided by the tool, which inevitably requests credit card information to cover a small shipping fee.
Online COVID-19 test requirement scam
The Better Business Bureau reported an increase in reports of American impersonators asking recipients of text messages to take a required COVID-19 test by visiting a linked website in April 2020.
Since there is no online test for COVID-19, many people have, of course, immediately detected this hoax. The idea behind these smishing attacks could, however, easily change given how successfully the public can be exploited by capitalizing on pandemic fears.
How to prevent Smishing
The good news is that these attacks’ possible consequences are simple to defend against. You don’t need to do anything to keep yourself safe. In essence, you can only get hurt by the attacks if you accept the bait.
Having said that, keep in mind that many businesses and institutions have legal ways to contact you by text message. Even though certain messages shouldn’t be disregarded, always respond cautiously. You should keep in mind a few things to better defend yourself from these attacks.
Do not respond, slow down if a message is urgent, check the phone number, avoid using any links or contact info in the message, use multi-factor authentication (MFA), never provide a password or account recovery code via text, opt to never keep credit card numbers on your phone, download an anti-malware app or call your bank directly.
What to do if you are a Smishing victim
You must have a recovery strategy in place because smishing attacks are crafty and may have already victimized you.
Take the following crucial steps to lessen the effects of a successful smishing attempt:
- Inform any institutions that can help about the alleged attack.
- To stop current or future identity fraud, freeze your credit.
- Where possible, change your account PINs and any passwords.
- Keep an eye out for odd login sites and other actions when checking your banking, credit, and various internet accounts.
For your safety following a smishing attack, each of these actions has a significant weight. However, by reporting an attack, you not only aid in your own recovery but also prevent others from being a victim.
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