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What Is SMS Phishing, And How Does One Safeguard Themselves?

IT Biz Today Staff

You may be aware of phishing, a social engineering attack in which a scammer sends you an electronic mail and attempts to draw out confidential details such as your social security number (SSN) or credit card information. The term ‘smishing’ is a portmanteau of phishing and SMS. For an uninitiated, ‘SMS’ stands for short message service, and it is a technical word used to describe text messages delivered to mobile devices. Here, we will take a look at what smishing is and how to keep your data safe from it.

What Does Smishing Refer To?

Most people would have come across phishing emails at least once in life. In this type of social engineering attack, an individual might email you by posing as your banking institution and can ask for your account details, credit card information, or SSN. Your actual bank might also have sent a message to your phone telling you not to reveal these kinds of details to anyone including its staff. Good banks message their customers to make them aware of this scam.

Smishing is a form of phishing where short message service is utilized to extract confidential details from people. An example of it is the latest one where scammers delivered messages to people pretending to be those from courier delivery companies, like FedEx. These messages contained a hyperlink to a webpage where people may establish delivery preferences plus a fake tracking code. In the event you click the hyperlink on your mobile device, you’ll arrive on an illegitimate Amazon website where there would be a deceptive ‘free reward’.

The fact is that it is a phishing website, not Amazon, and it will ask for the card details to make you pay the so-called ‘shipping fees’. In the event you accidently give the pieces of information, you’ll be charged around $100 on a monthly-basis from then on. This is just an example. A smishing campaign might also pose as your banking institution and tell you to type in your SSN. Or, the campaign might pretend and act as a different genuine company, requesting you to install a possibly harmful mobile application on your device that its app store does not approve of.

Spam: No Longer For Only Electronic Mails

Standard spams are junk emails that almost every person is already familiar with. There are quality spam filters in ‘email reader’ programs, which catch many spams before users notice these. In conclusion, it is not surprising that people are relying on mediums different from electronic mails to scam others.

You will come across many different forms of fraudulent calls on fixed-line phones and mobile devices, such as the recent ‘Wangiri’ scam for instance. Phishing attacks also occur on social networking websites.

Smishing is a practice that several individuals are yet to come across. Scammers rely on individuals being less suspecting of a basic text message as compared to an electronic mail. With scammers seeking more individuals to deceive, It would be unsurprising to see it turn into an increasingly common scheme in the future.

Tips On Protecting Your Data From Smishing Schemes

You have to be wary of fraudulent text messages like you would be in the case of electronic mails. Every standard piece of advice for handling the phishing emails also applies to this kind of social engineering attack.

  • Verify the number the message came from. For instance, if Alibaba usually sends a delivery notification to your phone from one number, and another message comes from it, the latter is likely to be genuine. Even so, be aware that scammers are capable of faking the source number of the message.
  • Do not click a hyperlink in the message and enter details without verifying whether it is from a genuine source. To verify it, contact your banking institution and ask whether they’re sending a notification to customers as a text message.
  • Avoid sending confidential details as a reply to an anonymous message. For instance, when someone messages you saying that they are your spouse and that it is their new number, get in touch with them directly. This move will help to confirm that they aren’t an imposter attempting to swindle you.
  • Look out for anything so great that it is barely believable, such as freebies that require entering your card number.
  • Avoid downloading and installing an application delivered to you through an SMS message.
  • In the event you are not expecting a delivery, the message is likely to be part of a smishing scheme. In this case, just delete it without clicking the link that accompanies the message.

Tips On Blocking Spammy Messages

Android and iOS devices allow users to block spam messages in an automatic way. You can install a mobile software program with a list of numbers suspected as those of people who send unsolicited messages. The mobile application will then filter out text messages you get from any of those numbers.

In the event you are receiving many fraudulent messages, you can block them using the above said kind of application. When you are only receiving some of these messages, you may block those numbers in a manual way.