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Mobile phones and their facilities are no less than a boon for humanity if used right. Presently, there are 5.27 billion mobile phone users across the world, and they all have faced Smishing. This kind of text-based attack empathizing on fooling the victim to do a fraud, ultimately. Learn more about it in detail.
What is Smishing in Cyber Security?
The simplest Smishing definition is an SMS-based phishing threat. It involves sending SMS intending to steal critical personal/professional/financial information from the receiver or to install malicious content on the aimed target. That’s why experts also refer to it as SMS phishing.
Depending upon the expertise of the cyber-criminal carrying out the attack, it can also lead to money extraction from the target. If we talk about Smishing v/s phishing victim-trapping strategies, the former uses an SMS while the latter utilizes an email.
Smishing Attack in Action
The main elements that determine the success of Smishing are a betrayal of trust and trickery. The attacker imitates a trusted source, and when the target trusts the cybercriminal, s/he betrays it. A slight variation of phishing, it naturally has social engineering methodology at its core. Learn - What is social engineering?
The hacker/attacker takes the disguise of a trusted or legitimate resource, person, or business. For instance, attackers claim to be a banking professional, representative of a governmental organization, or someone from the employer’s side.
Creating a context
At this stage, the cybercriminals fabricate an emergency that demands immediate action.
The SMS text is created in such a way that it makes the target vulnerable. With the mention of situations such as instant loan approval, verification to prevent account blocking, sharing details to claim a huge gift, and many more, attackers try to override the target’s critical thinking ability. When it happens, persuasion becomes easy.
Once the prey falls into the trap, threat actor succeeds. When selecting a target, attackers usually get the contact (phone) details from third parties, other hackers, or use the previously stolen user information.
SMS are shared in bulk to increase the conversion rate.
To keep the identity hidden and avoid tracking, hackers use spoofing. Cheap and easy-to-dispose, Burner phones are used, because such phones are often disposed once the hacker succeeds.
Types of smishing attack:
The recent-most type, it involves free COVID aid, mandatory Coronavirus testing, sharing personal information of contact tracing, and so on.
Bank’s Text Message
Almost everyone owns a bank account, so it is easy to trick inattentive people through such message.
Cybercriminals know that people take immediate actions when an update or information is coming from their banks. We all are vulnerable when it comes to bank-related information. So, we might hand over essential details to attackers if fooled.
Invitations to take the survey
The most common Smishing example is an invitation to participate in a survey. It involves clicking on a click. The link can redirect you to a corrupted website or contain malware.
As OTP-based verification is the most commonly used MFA technique. They were a few incidents seen where hackers followed this method, recently.
In this type of Smishing attack, an SMS asking for handing over personal details or clicking on a particular like is used to complete a fake order confirmation.
Lottery Winning Message
SMSs mentioning a huge lottery prize are circulated amongst the crowd. To claim the prize, one has to either provide bank details or click on a link.
How to Prevent Smishing?
To deal with it, you can try these simple yet effective methods:
Don’t respond if the message is coming from a spam number
Telecom companies are also aware of this attack and have started reporting a number as spam if a number is involved in bulk SMS posting. So, when you receive an SMS from a spam number, don’t respond to it.
Don’t take immediate actions
SMS claiming to take immediate actions is most commonly a Smishing attack. Take your time to verify the information if it’s about a gift or coupon. Verify from trusted sources. For instance, if an SMS is stating that you have a $1,000 coupon from Amazon, contact customer care and crosscheck the information. If it’s what the SMS claims, customer care will verify that.
Use an anti-virus software
Mostly, people don’t have anti-viruses installed on mobile phones. But, they should as it will scan the presence of any malicious link or content in your mobile phone and will keep you safe.
To make sure your critical information is not shared over a click, use MFA.
What is an example of a smishing attack?
An example of such an attack is a Message that contains a link to a fake website, which looks like an official bank website, but is actually a phishing page designed to steal the victim's credentials.
How can I protect myself from a smishing attack?
To protect yourself from smishing attacks, avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. Also, be cautious of unfamiliar phone numbers and messages that ask for personal information. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website on how to prevent smishing attacks.
How can I identify a smishing attack?
A smishing attack may be identified by the sender's phone number or the message's content. If the message contains a shortened link or asks for sensitive data, it may be a smishing attack.
What is a smishing attack?
A smishing attack is a type of phishing attack that is conducted through text messages or SMS. The attacker tries to trick the user into clicking on a malicious link or downloading a harmful attachment.