Smishing is a kind of a phishing attack that aims to steal the privacy of a user and distribute malware on their device. This attack works using text messages, which deceptively inform users about something important. This attack supposes that user should follow the link or send something back instead.
Smishing has long been successful for scammers. Users often trust text messages and don’t realize the danger of clicking on everything that comes to the smartphone. In this way, intruders get everything they need – for example, banking data or user credentials. And the victim may not even suppose that something bad has just happened.
How does SMS phishing work?
To conduct a smishing attack, the attackers work according to the popular scheme. Examining it makes it easier to understand what you may encounter. With knowledge of the common works of fraudsters, it will be easier to recognize them online and prevent the potential threat.
The first thing a crook aims at is social engineering. In these attacks, it will try to maximally pretend to be legitimate and familiar to the user. Then, the attacker can demand what it wants. In any way, the threat actor will convince you to click on an attached link, where it can steal your passwords, take your email addresses, and other personal data. Messages of this kind often have oppressive character, manipulation, a sense of urgency, and other psychological techniques.
In the case of a successful attack, the crook will obtain the victim’s personal data. The upcoming actions can be different: selling data on the Darknet, performing another phishing, etc. But this is only common information about the operation of the attack. The principle of smishing may differ slightly depending on its type, and below we will look more closely upon them.
5 types of smishing attacks
We will consider the different types of smishing and their work to understand what protection to take and how not to fall for the bait of intruders:
- Financial services smishing scams.The fraud involves a provocation through an alleged legitimate banking institution or a counterfeit entity to obtain financial information. Fraudsters in this case target account numbers, social security numbers, passwords, e-mail addresses and other financial and accounting data.
- COVID-19 smishing scams. Due to the global COVID-19 epidemic, the theft of users’ privacy has become even more common. The attackers began to send victims messages under the guise of a medical institution or government, asking for a report on any symptoms, or to familiarize themselves with current information on the epidemic. And those users who have already faced this thing quickly fall for such provocations.
- Confirmation smishing scams.This fraud is intended to compromise confidential data using forged confirmation requests. The following happens: you need to go to the website, fill out a form, and enter your data there to confirm some of your online orders or confirm an invoice or something like that.
- Gift smishing scams. Gifts are the most delicious fishing rod for users. Scammers send you a message that you have won a prize, but to get it you need to follow the link below. After that, a victim is redirected to the malicious site, which will damage the operating system and all the information on it.
- Customer support smishing scam. Fraudsters in this case try to work through representatives of any online campaigns or under the guise of a bank, shop, etc. In their text messages, they try to convince you that your account is broken and that they are the ones who can help you with this problem. To solve the problem you just need to go to the link, but this link often has only a destructive effect on your device.
Warning signs of a Smishing attack
If you don’t know how to understand if your smartphone has just received fake text messages that are harmful, then see below the most common features of Smishing:
- Links and files from unknown numbers. If you received a letter from a strange phone number and also saw an attached link, this could be another confirmation that the letter is fraudulent. Be careful, the sites to which this link can transfer you may be infected.
- Suspicious phone numbers. Smishing scams can come from strange phone numbers. They do not look like regular 10-digit and often have a strange composition. If you see such strange numbers in your message folder, delete it without even opening the contents.
- Urgent requests. Requests with scary phrases are fraudulent. Because no official company will frighten their customers or do not warn them of any changes. If you’re wondering if the real company sent you something like this, then contact them directly through officially accepted contacts and get yourself a clear view on what is going on.
- Prize notifications. It’s about contests you previously didn’t know about and supposition winnings you would not be interested in. If you know for sure you have not taken part in any lotteries or raffles, then do not follow the questionable links to get the prize because it is a malicious trick.
- Money requests. Urgent asking for payment on the Internet for something is another sign of a smishing attack. Do not pay on any unfamiliar sources especially if you are asked by someone unfamiliar to you. They can use veiled phrases and motives to convince you of false information. If you are convinced that you are not indebted to anyone and did not buy anything on online platforms, then do not follow the links in this kind of messages, and exit altogether deleting them.
Tips for protection from SMS phishing
In order not to fall victim to smishing you can keep up to several tips that should help you to avoid any possible smishing attacks:
- Don’t answer
Do not respond to messages sent to you from strange phone numbers. Protect yourself from perceived threats. By sending a message to a con man, you risk handing him your phone number for further malicious purposes.
- Contact banks and/or retailers directly
If you have doubts about who sent you the message and if it is genuine contact the prospective company, bank, or store to be sure of the veracity of the content in the message
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links and files
Do not click on everything you get in text messages This may be a trick and you risk infecting your device. If a message with a link is sent to your contact and you have expected it, then feel free to use what other users share with you. But if it comes from an unknown source, then we do not recommend considering such messages and contents in them.
- Never send personal information via text
Take it as a rule not to share your credentials, financial, and banking information with anyone not eligible for such kind of sensitive information. This is your privacy and you are responsible for yourself.
- Use two-factor authentication
Using two-factor authentication will help you protect yourself from an attack if the fraudster does receive your data in some way. Two-factor authentication aims to double-protect your data through facial recognition and fingerprint technology when confirming your login.
- Download Antivirus Software
Strong antivirus protection will help you prevent the risk of infection of your devices. It also will prevent intruders from breaking your privacy. Software will carefully scan everything that comes to you via your smartphone or other devices.