With the rise of online activity, scammers have become more creative in how they target you online. We have started to see people receiving fraudulent SMS messages in order to trick people into giving up their personal information. This is called “SMishing”.  Smishing is a type of phishing scam that uses text messages instead of emails to try and trick people into giving up their personal information.

What is Smishing?

Smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses text messages instead of emails to try and trick people into giving up their personal information. The word “Smishing” is a combination of the words “SMS” and “phishing.” Just like email phishing scams, smishers will send out mass texts that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as your bank or a website you use frequently. They will then include a link that takes you to a fake website that looks real but is actually just a way for them to steal your personal information.

Here are the two techniques Cybercriminals use to try and steal your data: 

Malware: The Smishing URL link may deceive you into installing harmful software, or malware, which then sets up shop on your phone. This SMS spyware may pose as trustworthy software and fool you into putting in private information, which would then be sent to the hackers.

Malicious website: The Smishing message’s link can take you to a bogus website that asks you to provide sensitive personal data. To more easily steal your information, cybercriminals create rogue websites that impersonate legitimate ones.

Smishing text messages frequently solicit you for personal or financial information, including your account or ATM number, while posing as being from your bank. Giving the information to thieves is the same as giving them the code to your bank account.

Smishing is evolving into a consumer and commercial concern as more individuals use their personal smartphones for work (a practice known as BYOD, or “bring your own device”). So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Smishing has emerged as the predominant method of sending harmful text messages.

How Does Smishing Work?

Smishing works by taking advantage of people’s curiosity. Smishing uses social engineering techniques to manipulate the victims into performing malicious actions or divulging sensitive information.

The attacker will send a text message to the victim that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company. This message will usually contain some sort of urgency, such as “Your account has been hacked! Click here to reset your password.” By preying on people’s fears and emotions, the attacker can convince victims to click on malicious links or download malware-infected files.

Once the victim takes the bait, the attacker now has access to their personal information or can infect their device with malware. From there, the sky is the limit. The attacker can steal the victim’s identity, empty their bank account, or use their device to launch attacks on other targets.

These attacks can be very difficult to spot, as fake websites can look very realistic. That’s why it’s important to be cautious when clicking on links from unknown numbers, even if the message seems benign. If you’re unsure whether a message is legitimate, you can always contact the company directly to confirm before clicking on any links or providing any personal information.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Smishing Attacks?

There are several things you can do to protect yourself from Smishing attacks:

  • Never click on links or download attachments from unknown numbers.
  • Do not respond to text messages that ask for personal information.
  • If you’re unsure about a message’s legitimacy, contact the company directly.
  • Never give out your personal information over text messages or email.
  • Keep your software and anti-virus programs up to date.
  • Unusual-looking phone numbers, such as those with four digits, may indicate the use of email-to-text services. This is one of several strategies a con artist might employ to conceal their real phone number.
  • A Smishing attacker may be unable to access an exposed password if the compromised account needs a second “key” for verification. Two-factor authentication (2FA), the most popular MFA variation, frequently employs a text message verification code. Stronger alternatives exist, such as using a specific app for verification (like Google Authenticator).
  • Report any SMS phishing attempts to the relevant authorities.

By following these tips, you can help keep yourself safe from Smishing attacks.

What can you do if you are a victim of Smishing?

If you think you may have responded to a Smishing attack, there are several steps you should take:

  • Change all your passwords – If you clicked on a link in a Smishing text and entered any login credentials (username & password), change your passwords immediately. We also recommend enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible as an extra layer of protection against attackers.
  • Run anti-malware software – If you downloaded any files attached to the text messages or clicked on any links, run anti-malware software immediately in order to scan for and remove any malware that may have been installed on your device without your knowledge.
  • Contact your bank/credit card company – If you entered any sensitive financial information like credit card numbers or banking login credentials, contact your bank or credit card company immediately and let them know about the incident. They will usually be able to cancel any fraudulent charges and help you protect your account going forward.
  • Monitor your financial activity – Check your credit, banking, and various online accounts for unusual login information and other activity.
  • Report – Report any institutions that can help with the alleged attack.

Smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses text messages instead of emails in an attempt to scam users out of their personal information. These attacks are becoming increasingly common, so it’s important to be aware of how they work and what you can do to protect yourself.