Smishing is a growing threat for businesses of all sizes, as it has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years. Smishing occurs when a fraudster sends a fake text message, with the aim of tricking the recipient into providing personal information or downloading malicious software. It is a type of fraud that can be difficult to spot, as the message usually appears to come from a legitimate source.
Therefore, it is important for businesses to be aware of the risks associated with smishing and take steps to protect their data, customers and systems. This article will provide an overview of smishing and look at how businesses can protect themselves from this threat.
What is smishing?
Smishing is a type of cyber-attack that uses social engineering techniques to lure victims into providing sensitive information. It combines the words “SMS” and “phishing” and typically involves sending malicious messages to a user via text message. Smishing is a form of phishing attack and the goal is to get the victim to respond to the message, either by clicking a malicious link or providing personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, or passwords. The messages usually appear to be from a legitimate source.
Smishing messages often contain a link that leads to a malicious website or contains malicious attachments. The goal of smishing is to steal personal information and use it to commit fraud or identity theft. Smishing is a growing threat, and individuals and businesses should be aware of the potential risks associated with smishing attacks.
How smishing works
Smishing, or SMS phishing, is a scam that uses SMS text messages instead of email to get victims to reveal personal information or perform certain actions. This type of attack is growing in popularity as more people use their phones to access the internet. Smishing works by sending out text messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or service provider.
The message may ask the recipient to click a link, open an attachment, or call a number to resolve a problem. When the recipient clicks on the link or opens the attachment, they may be taken to a malicious website or download malware onto their phone. Malware can be used to steal personal information, such as passwords and banking information, or to gain access to the user’s phone.
The user may also be asked to provide personal information, such as a credit card number, Social Security number, or bank account information. Smishing scams can also be used to spread ransomware. The scammer sends a smishing text message containing a malicious link or an attachment that, when clicked on or opened, installs ransomware on the victim’s device. The ransomware then encrypts the victim’s data and demands payment in exchange for a decryption key.
Once the victim has provided the requested information or taken the requested action, the scammer can use it to access accounts, commit identity theft, or perform other malicious activities.
How to avoid becoming a victim of smishing?
Smishing is a form of phishing that uses SMS messages as a medium of attack. To protect yourself from becoming a victim of smishing, there are a few steps you can take.
First, be vigilant about the warning signs and the messages you receive. If you receive a message from a sender that you don’t recognise, or if the message contains any suspicious links or attachments, do not click on them. If the message seems to be from a legitimate source, such as your bank or other financial institution, contact the sender directly to verify the message’s authenticity.
Second, be wary of messages that ask you to provide personal information. Legitimate businesses and organisations will never ask for your personal information via SMS messages. If you receive a message asking for information such as your bank account information, or passwords, delete it immediately.
Third, think before you act. Before clicking on any link or attachment in a message, think carefully about the potential consequences of doing so. If in doubt, delete the message and contact the sender to verify the message’s authenticity.
Finally, keep your mobile device up to date. Make sure your device is running the latest version of its operating system and install any available security updates. This will help to protect your device from any potential smishing attacks.
By following these steps and exercising caution when it comes to messages sent to your mobile device, you can help to protect yourself from becoming a victim of smishing.
How to identify smishing?
Smishing is a type of fraud that is becoming increasingly common. It involves the use of text messages to try and persuade people to provide personal information or click on malicious links. It is important to be aware of smishing and know how to identify it so that you can protect yourself from it.
The most common way to identify smishing is to be aware of the content of the text message. It is important to be suspicious of any messages that ask for personal information or click on a link. Smishing messages are often disguised as urgent messages from a trusted source, such as a bank or government agency. They may also contain typos or poor grammar, as well as requests for sensitive information.
Another way to identify smishing is to look for signs of deception. Smishing messages may contain false promises or threats, as well as false contact information or other details. It is important to be aware of these signs and not be fooled by them.
Finally, it is important to be aware of the source of the message. If you receive a suspicious message, take a few moments to research the sender and verify that it is a legitimate source. If the message is from an unknown sender, it is important to delete it immediately.
By being aware of these signs and taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, you can protect yourself from smishing. It is important to be vigilant and to be aware of any suspicious text messages.
Overall, watch out for the following:
- Unsolicited Messages: Messages sent via text or email, even if they appear to be from a legitimate source, should be treated with caution.
- Phishing Language: Smishing messages often use language that is urgent or threatening.
- Unfamiliar Links: Links in smishing messages should not be clicked, as they may contain malicious software or lead to malicious websites.
- Unfamiliar Phone Numbers: SMS messages from an unfamiliar phone number should also be treated with caution.
Smishing and identity theft
Smishing and identity theft are closely linked. Smishing is a form of phishing that uses SMS messages to deceive people into giving away personal information. This type of attack is particularly dangerous as it is very hard to detect, as it looks like a legitimate message sent from a legitimate source. Once the fraudsters have obtained the personal information, they can use it to commit identity theft.
Identity theft is a crime where criminals use a person’s personal information, such as their name, address and credit card details, to commit fraud. Criminals can use the stolen information to open new accounts in the victim’s name, gain access to existing accounts to commit account takeover fraud, or even take out loans or buy goods and services.
Smishing makes it easier for criminals to commit identity theft, as it allows them to collect personal information quickly and easily. The criminals can then use this information to commit identity theft, and the victim may not even know that their personal information has been stolen until it is too late. It is therefore important to be aware of smishing and how to protect yourself from it.
Smishing attack types & techniques
There are several smishing attack techniques. The most common is the use of malicious links, which can be sent through SMS text messages and other messaging services. These links may lead to malicious websites, download malicious applications, or request personal information.
Another technique used by attackers is the use of malicious attachments. These attachments may contain malicious code or malware that can be used to steal data or gain access to the victim’s device.
The following are the top 10 techniques used in smishing attacks:
- Impersonation of Legitimate Entities: Attackers often use the name of a legitimate business or organization, such as a bank or government agency, in order to appear trustworthy.
- Urgency: Attackers often try to create a sense of urgency to encourage the victim to act quickly without thinking.
- Deceptive Links: Attackers may use links in text messages or emails that may appear to be legitimate but lead to malicious websites.
- False Promises: Attackers often make promises of free gifts or rewards to entice the victim to click on a link or provide sensitive information.
- Masked URLs: Attackers may use links that appear to be legitimate but lead to malicious websites.
- Unknown Sender: Attackers often use spoofed email addresses or phone numbers to disguise their identity.
- Social Engineering: Attackers may use personal information about the victim, such as their date of birth or address, to try to gain access to sensitive accounts.
- Malicious Attachments: Attackers may send malicious attachments such as documents, images, or audio files that can contain malware.
- Phishing Kits: Attackers may purchase or download phishing kits that contain scripts and website templates used to create malicious websites.
- Two-Factor Authentication Bypass: Attackers may try to bypass two-factor authentication in order to gain access to accounts.
Moreover, it is important to be aware of the different types of smishing attacks, the following describes the main types of Smishing scenarios:
- Sending malicious links with malware or trojan: This is a technique in which a malicious link is sent through SMS or text message with the intention of downloading malware or a trojan onto the victim’s device. It is usually disguised as an update or a patch and can be used to extract data from the device or to gain access to accounts.
- SMS Spoofing: The attacker sends a message that appears to have been sent from a legitimate source – such as a friend or family member or even a business or government agency, by impersonating the sender’s phone number. It is typically used by criminals to steal information or money by impersonating a trusted source. SMS spoofing can be used to send phishing messages, in most cases, SMS spoofing is illegal and can put the victims of this type of attack at risk of identity theft, fraud, or data theft.
- Fake delivery notifications: This is a technique in which a fake SMS or text message is sent notifying the victim that their delivery is on its way or has arrived. The message often contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- Tax season scam: This is a technique in which the victim is notified via SMS or text message that they are due a tax refund or are eligible for a tax rebate. The message usually contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- Tech support scams: This is a technique in which the victim is notified via SMS or text message that they are experiencing technical issues with their device and are offered tech support. The message usually contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- Raffle win scam: This is a technique in which the victim is notified via SMS or text message that they have won a raffle or competition and are offered a cash prize. The message usually contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- Password reset scam: This is a technique in which the victim is notified via SMS or text message that their account password needs to be reset and is offered help with this. The message usually contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- CEO fraud scams: This is a technique in which the victim is contacted by someone claiming to be from the CEO or senior management of their organisation and is asked to transfer funds or provide sensitive information. The message usually contains a malicious link which, if clicked on, will download malware or a trojan onto the device.
- Other smishing scams: Other phishing scams include when the victim is contacted via SMS or text message with any number of false offers, such as free gifts or discounts, in order to extract sensitive information or money from them. There are also lottery scams which is an unsolicited offers to win money or prizes and malicious app installation which is the unauthorised installation of a software application with the intent of stealing data or harming the system.
How can organisations prevent smishing attacks?
Organisations can protect themselves from smishing attacks by taking the following proactive steps to ensure the security of their customers and their data:
Implement strong identity verification and authentication processes: Strong authentication processes, such as two-factor authentication (2FA), can help to prevent smishing attacks by verifying the identity of users before allowing them to access sensitive data or perform certain actions. This can help to ensure that only legitimate users are able to access data and systems, reducing the risk of smishing attacks.
Monitor user behaviour: Organisations should also continually monitor user behaviour to identify any suspicious behaviour that could indicate a smishing attack. This can be done manually or using automated systems.
Implement fraud detection systems: Fraud detection and fraud prevention systems can help to identify smishing attacks by detecting suspicious patterns in user behaviour. These systems can be used to alert the organisation of any suspicious activity and take action to prevent the attack.
Educate and train employees: Employees should be educated about smishing attacks and the importance of following security procedures. This can help to reduce the risk of a successful smishing attack by ensuring that employees are aware of the potential risks of smishing attacks and are adequately trained on how to protect themselves, their data, and the organisation’s data and how to respond appropriately.
Use secure communication methods: Secure communication methods, such as secure messaging apps and encrypted emails, can help to reduce the risk of a smishing attack. These methods ensure that all communication is sent and received
Establish Security Policies: Establish appropriate security policies and make sure that all staff members are aware of and adhere to them. These policies should include reporting any suspicious emails and texts.
Utilise Multi-Factor Authentication: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect corporate networks, accounts, and devices, making it more difficult for attackers to gain access.
Block Suspicious Links: Use security tools to block suspicious links sent via SMS or emails.
Monitor Systems: Regularly monitor systems for any changes or suspicious activity to ensure that any malicious attacks are quickly detected and addressed.
Preventing smishing with Udentify
Udentify is a comprehensive identity verification and authentication tool which helps in preventing smishing and other cyber threats. It ensures that the customer’s data is safe, secure and compliant with the industry standards.
By providing a secure authentication process, Udentify helps businesses protect their customers from the risks of smishing. It also provides a suite of identity verification and authentication services and features, such as facial recognition, voice recognition, multi-factor authentication (MFA), two-factor authentication (2FA) and liveness detection. These can all be used to stop smishing attempts before they become a problem.
These services help businesses to verify and authenticate their customers’ identities, ensuring that the information provided is accurate and secure. Udentify also provides a secure environment for customers to transact online, safeguarding their data from malicious actors. With its secure identity verification and authentication system, Udentify has effectively helped businesses to protect their customers from smishing.
With Udentify, businesses can have peace of mind that their customers’ accounts are secure and that their data is not at risk of being stolen.