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Smishing: What Is It and Why Is It Dangerous?

Introduction

Smishing is a type of scam that’s been on the rise. It’s a kind of phishing that uses text messages to gain trust, hence the name’s reference to SMS services. With this social engineering tactic, smishers can steal sensitive information, such as credit cards, social security numbers, or Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Hackers use spoofed phone numbers to make sure that a text message is coming from a legal community.

According to Proofpoint’s 2020 State of the Phish report, smishing was a global issue and 84% of global organizations faced these attacks in 2019 alone.

Why Are the Types of Smishing?

There’s not a set way that smishing attacks will happen. Cybercriminals use several techniques to exploit personal information. Consider some of these simple, but effectively dangerous pretenses:

  1. You receive a COVID-19 related text message that claim to need your private information so they can help you.

  2. A seemingly disparate charity organization might reach out for donations.

  3. Scammers may send a text message asking you to verify your payment method on an online website, such as a freelancing site.

  4. Bad guys can trick you into opening a fake message with the promise of included discount offers, a lottery ticket or some other big prize.

  5. You may be asked to fix a security issue with your bank account, insurance company or some other financial institution.

Fraudsters can play with your emotions by creating a sense of urgency. They might try to make you panic and respond immediately, and that can put you in a very bad situation.

Why Is Smishing Dangerous?

Smishing scams harm both individuals and organizations. When it happens to a business, the brand suffers, compliance issues arise and customers begin to distrust your security. Why put their information in the hands of someone who can’t keep it safe?

Scammers send a message to a victim, which contains alluring content that convinces him to visit an embedded link. The site he’s directed to will look genuine, but as soon as he opens the website, hackers will steal money from his bank account, commit identify fraud or perform any number of malicious activities.

Fraudsters may pretend to be your boss and ask you to recount company secrets, employees’ PII or other confidential information. They can also blackmail employees into acting fast, by making an immediate transaction or sending files they shouldn’t.

How Can You Stay Safe Against Smishing Attacks?

Now you know a little more about the various ways that smishing scams can happen. Therefore, you can better prepare and protect yourself from becoming a victim.

  1. Don’t pay heed to a link-embedded text message that comes from an unknown number.

  2. Don’t open a link-embedded SMS if it is sent by an unknown person.

  3. If you could not stop yourself from clicking on a link, either in excitement or panic of getting or losing something, you must not provide your sensitive information such as banking details or credit card numbers.

  4. Block unknown numbers to prevent hackers from sending the message again and again.

In an organization, the Principle of Least Privilege (PLP) can help to reduce the chances of data theft. Using this principle, employees will be given access to only resources that are required to perform a specific task. Doing so can significantly mitigate the risk of data exposure.

Take everyday steps to keep your business safe. Cybercriminals are evolving and coming up with modern-day cons that require vigilance to avoid. Educating yourself on new cyberattacks, like smishing, is a great place to start.

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