When it comes to cybercrime, there’s always something new on the horizon, hoping to catch us unawares. One of the latest is ‘smishing’ or SMS phishing. It’s fast becoming an ever-increasing problem for both individuals and businesses.
Definition of smishing
SMS phishing is essentially a form of phishing attack undertaken through text or SMS messages. The messages often contain an urgent notification regarding banking or courier services or an offer for a free product. They aim to manipulate people into turning over sensitive data such as bank account details, credit card numbers, account passwords, or access to a business’ computer systems.
How does smishing work?
Smishing works much like email phishing. It uses social-engineering tactics to appeal to our desire to have things work smoothly (Oh no! There’s a problem with my bank account!), to help others (A message from a bushfire relief charity? Sure, I’ll help out!) or to help ourselves (Eighty percent off a new phone? Heck, yeah!). Unfortunately, because text messages seem more personal, we may be more likely to click a link in an SMS than we would nowadays in an email.
Utilising trust (scammers pose as legitimate organisations), context (lots of people are expecting packages around Christmas, for instance), and emotion (we must act now!), cybercriminals write messages that will generate action. In this case, the clicking of a link within the text message. This malicious link may either trick you into downloading malware onto your phone that then masquerades as a legitimate app (into which you enter your personal details) or takes you to a fake site, again requesting your sensitive data. These apps and websites are often well disguised and look ‘legitimate’, tricking the unwary.
How can we avoid smishing attacks?
As more and more mobile phones are used for work, SMS phishing has become not only a consumer threat, but also a business threat. Avoiding smishing attacks is paramount. But how do we do this? First, we need to lose any false confidence we have in text message safety – smartphone security DOES have its limitations, and CAN be compromised.
So, the best way to remain safe? Follow the golden rule and do nothing. That is, always err on the side of caution and don’t click on links in text messages.
Of course, sometimes we may have clicked a link in a hurry or in error, and some messages may include legitimate links, so how can we manage the risk?
- If you have clicked on a link that you now believe may be suspect, DO NOT give any personal details.
- If you believe it may be a legitimate message, but you’re not sure, navigate to the official business webpage via a separate browser or call the company using a number that you look up independently of the text message. (And remember, legitimate institutions are extremely unlikely to request login information or account updates via SMS.)
- Don’t reply to messages that look suspect, even to text ‘Stop’ – this will indicate your number is active and may prompt further smishing attempts.
- Only ever download apps from an official app store.
- Utilise multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. A password inadvertently provided via a phishing attempt may still be useless to a cybercriminal if the second level of verification/authentication is required.
- Report possible smishing attempts to the ACCC Scamwatch.
Need more information?
At Geelong Technology Group, our experienced IT professionals are here to help you avoid smishing messages, phishing emails, and other cyber-related scams or attacks. Helping homes and businesses in Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast, and surrounding regions with their online security is what we love to do, so give us a call today on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or drop into our showroom at 166 Francis Street, Belmont.