Smishing is the most recent emerging threat that could put your endpoints and your data at risk. Consider the following smishing guide and how your organization can prevent this threat.
If you spend any time online, you have probably heard of phishing, the widespread dissemination of deceptive emails designed to steal login credentials, compromise personal information, and facilitate the crime of identity theft.
And if you are in a position of power, you may be familiar with the dangers of spearphishing, a highly targeted attack aimed at executives and other decision-makers.
Both phishing and spearphishing are real cybersecurity threats, but what about smishing? Read on to learn about the risks of smishing, and how this emerging threat could compromise the private data on your smartphone and other mobile devices.
Related: Here’s How Hackers Steal Passwords
What is Smishing?
The “SM” in smishing is short for SMS, a protocol used by smartphones and mobile devices to send and receive text messages. If you have ever sent a text message or clicked on one in your inbox, you need to know about what smishing is, how it works, and most importantly how you can protect yourself and your devices.
In IT speak, SMS is shorthand for short message service, and that is exactly what it is all about. Smishing scams hijack the SMS service on your mobile devices, creating fraudulent messages designed to compromise your security, steal your personal information, and put the data on your smartphone at risk.
In many ways, smishing is just another form of phishing, and the tactics used will look all too familiar. The typical smishing message will masquerade as an important notice from your bank, often using frightening or misleading headlines to get you to click on the link.
The smishing message may contain an embedded link, a return telephone number, or both. If you click on the link or call the contact number, you will likely become a victim.
Smishing scams have already been used to steal cash from bank accounts via cardless ATM transactions and rack up credit card purchases through compromised accounts. Since financial accounts are frequent targets of smishing attacks, consumers should be extra vigilant about messages originating from banks, credit card issuers, mutual fund companies, and brokerage firms.
How to Avoid Smishing Scams
There are a number of steps smartphone users can take to protect themselves from the growing threat of smishing. This emerging form of cybercrime is not going away; if anything, it is getting worse with every passing year. In the meantime, here are some simple things you can do to protect yourself, your data and your devices.
- Never click links in unsolicited text messages, especially ones claiming to be from banks and other financial institutions.
- Never respond to an unsolicited text message, not even to stop further messages from showing up. Some scam artists embed malware into the STOP link in their messages.
- Keep your device up to date by downloading and installing all recommended security updates.
- Download and use an antivirus or antimalware app on all your devices, including tablets and smartphones.
- Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi, and never conduct sensitive business while connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
- Delete any suspicious texts immediately and practice good text message hygiene.
- Follow up – to validate text messages you think may be genuine. If you get a text message from your bank, call the bank directly to verify its authenticity.
Smishing scams hijack the SMS service on your mobile devices, creating fraudulent messages designed to compromise your security, steal your personal information and put the data on your smartphone at risk.
How to Avoid Smishing Scams
If you think you have already been victimized by a smishing attack, you should contact local law enforcement right away. Law enforcement agencies are familiar with the risk of cybercrime, and they can help guide you through the reporting and recovery process.
Prevention is always the best defense when it comes to cybercrime, but if you do become a victim there are additional steps you can take to recover and further protect your devices. If your smartphone or tablet has been compromised, you may need to do a factory reset to cleanse the infection and make the device safe to use. You can try running a malware and virus scan first, but if the device remains infected, a full factory reset may be the safest course of action.
You should also monitor your bank accounts, brokerage statements and credit card transactions carefully in the wake of a successful smishing attack. Once an attacker gains control of your smartphone or another mobile device, it can be hard to tell exactly what information they were able to gather. Exercising due diligence now is the best way to prevent further damage to your finances.
Smishing is a growing threat to your cybersecurity, and knowledge is the best defense. The more you know about how smishing schemes operate, what they look like and how to respond, the easier it will be to protect yourself and your mobile devices.
Enterprise Protection from Smishing Attacks
With the emergence of BYOD, Endpoint security is of vital importance. When a new threat like smishing emerges, it’s important that your employees are educated and that you have a way to protect your data. To protect all your endpoints, consider Cybriant’s MDR service.
When a credible threat is detected, our system will retrieve the process history and our team will analyze the chain of events in real-time and determine the validity of the threat. You’ll receive the alerts when threats are detected along with advice and insight from our cybersecurity team to help you mitigate and respond to the threat.
Once identified, the malicious activity is immediately stopped in its tracks and our team guides you through the remediation. This remediation process provides astonishing insight into the data of the threat. You’ll be able to help your organization reduce their attack surface by learning how you’ve been compromised.
If you are looking for an easy solution to protect your organization’s data efficiently, check out our Managed Detection and Remediation service.