As mobile devices become an integral part of modern business, they’ve also become a popular target for cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in smartphone security. By targeting mobile devices through smishing attacks, attackers can compromise sensitive information, deliver malware, or steal money from unsuspecting victims.
These types of attacks can have devastating consequences for businesses, including data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage. As smishing becomes increasingly sophisticated, businesses need to take proactive measures to protect themselves and their employees.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what smishing is, how it works, and most importantly, how to protect your business against it.
What is Smishing?
Smishing, a combination of the words ‘SMS’ and ‘phishing’, is essentially a type of phishing attack that targets individuals through text messages. Attackers use various social engineering techniques to make their messages look legitimate and lure individuals into sharing personal information. Smishing attacks can take many forms, including messages claiming to be from banks or other financial institutions, messages offering free prizes or giveaways, or messages requesting urgent action.
These types of attacks have risen by 300% in recent years, and according to the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), victims of smishing attacks were tricked out of an average of €1,700 within the last six months alone.
The reason these scams are often so successful is that people tend to trust text messages more than emails. It’s this mistaken trust which has led to a surge in smishing attacks and made it easier for fraudsters to trick unsuspecting victims.
How does Smishing work?
Smishing attacks typically begin with a text message that appears to come from a trusted source, such as a bank, delivery service, or social media platform. The message may contain urgent language that prompts the victim to take immediate action, such as clicking on a link or replying with personal information.
If the victim clicks on the link, it may direct them to a fake website that looks like a legitimate one but is a cloned site designed to steal their information. The victim may be asked to enter their login credentials, financial details, or personal data, which is then collected by the attacker.
Alternatively, the message may instruct the victim to reply directly with sensitive information, which the attacker can use for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes.
Smishing attacks can be very convincing and according to a recent survey by Visa, over a third of participants cited the recognition of a brand name or product as a reason for trusting a fraudulent text.
Other factors include the limited length of text messages and the use of link-shortening services to conceal the true URL. Additionally, mobile phones don’t allow users to hover over a link in the same way that they can in an email which makes it much more effective for attackers to trick potential victims.
Image: An Post Smishing Scam
How to Prevent Smishing Attacks
- Be sceptical of messages from unknown numbers - If you receive a text message from an unknown number, be cautious and don't respond immediately. Scammers often use spoofed phone numbers to make it appear as if the message is coming from a legitimate source. Always verify the source before responding.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links - Smishing attacks often include a malicious link that the fraudster wants you to click on. Don’t click on any links within text messages unless you’re absolutely sure they’re legitimate.
- Never respond – If you receive a smishing text, don’t reply. Don’t even text ‘STOP’. Any kind of communication tells the fraudster that your number is active which could lead to you being targeted again. Your safest option is to block the number altogether.
- Don’t share personal information over text message - To help keep yourself safe, never give out personal details, such as passwords, credit card numbers, addresses, and emails via text.
- Use Multi-factor Authentication - Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, making it much more difficult for attackers to gain access through smishing attacks.
- Keep your phone and apps up to date - Software updates often contain important security fixes that can help protect your device from vulnerabilities.
- Use Anti-Virus software - Another way to prevent smishing attacks is to use anti-virus software on your mobile device. This software can help detect and block malicious apps or messages that may contain malware.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks - Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which means that anyone can access them. Hackers can then use these networks to intercept your messages or other personal information.
With the increasing reliance on mobile devices in today's remote and hybrid work environment, mobile security has never been more important. As a business owner or employee, it’s essential to take proactive measures to safeguard your device, educate yourself and your team about smishing threats, and implement the necessary security protocols. By staying vigilant and taking preventative steps, you can help keep your company data safe and secure.
To find out how we can help protect your business and secure it from unauthorised attacks, get in touch today for further info.