Smishing is a phishing technique that utilizes mobile phones as a platform for attacks. The attacker gathers personal information, including social security or credit card numbers, to carry out the attack. Smishing is conducted through text messages or SMS, and the attack is termed as ‘SMiShing.’
Some text messages containing real information about you may have been sent to your smartphone, aiming to deceive users. The messages may appear to come from your bank, asking for financial information such as personal or bank account numbers. Sharing such information or clicking on the links can inadvertently provide thieves with access to your financial assets. The crucial factor enabling this to be done unnoticed is that personal information seems to belong to you.
Smishing is a term derived from the words ‘SMS’ (short message services) and ‘phishing.’ Cybercriminals engaging in phishing may ask the recipient to open a malicious attachment or click on a link prepared with malware. They may send fake emails designed to deceive, but smishing utilizes text messages instead of emails.
What is the Main Objective of Smishing Perpetrators?
The primary goal of smishing perpetrators is typically to acquire personal information, cause financial harm to companies or individuals, or distribute malicious software to target individuals. Messages used in such attacks often try to deceive victims by creating a false sense of trust, directing individuals to perform specific actions. Identity thieves may act as if they are associated with a genuine institution or company, attempting to gather personal information. Such information may include usernames, passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, and other sensitive data. By sending messages containing harmful links, they may attempt to infect target devices with malicious software.
How Can Smishing Attacks be Prevented?
The fundamental purpose of smishing attacks is to exploit people’s trust, either by stealing their information or causing them financial harm. Being cautious about such attacks, staying vigilant against suspicious messages, and verifying reliable sources are crucial.
How Does Smishing Work?
As the name suggests, SMiShing is a fraudulent method carried out through short messages (SMS). Smishing attacks are typically designed to deceive individuals into performing specific actions.
What are the Types of Smishing Attacks?
Smishing attacks commonly occur as text messages, known as short message services (SMS). This form of attack, executed through SMS, is more trustworthy to people than a message sent via email. Although many victims may not equate phishing scams with personal text messages, smishing poses a more significant threat than emails. The limited number of options related to phone numbers is a factor, as phone numbers typically consist of 10 digits in many countries. A scammer can easily reach you via a randomly generated 10-digit phone number.
According to research, 98% of text messages are read, and 45% of them receive a response. In contrast, emails receive responses only 6% of the time. This illustrates why smishing attackers prefer this method. While smishing primarily involves sending messages through a short messaging service, cybercriminals may also try various techniques. For example, they may pose as a representative from your bank and attempt to steal personal information. Clicking on a link in the message might be required to connect to the bank or prove that a suspicious payment is not yours. Emotional or sympathetic methods may also be employed to collect sensitive information. For instance, they may ask you to contribute to a donation for earthquake relief, directing you to a link where you need to enter credit card information, address, and social security number. Once they have access to this information, they might deduct a monthly fee from your credit card to avoid raising suspicion.
Another example of phishing with a mobile phone is offering personalized discount deals to upgrade a service from your service provider. The message may request you to click on the provided link to activate the agreement. Although it may look like your provider’s website, they may ask you to verify your information, such as credit card number and address. If the message seems illogical or absurd to you, it’s advisable to be skeptical from the start.
Identity theft using instant messaging applications like Facebook or WhatsApp is not technically smishing but is closely related. Cybercriminals can take advantage of users opening messages from strangers through social media platforms. The goal of such attacks, like a real phishing plan, is to obtain your information, including passwords and credit card numbers. The attacker might offer a deal, contract, or discount opportunity. Clickable links are often used in such offers.
How to Recognize a Smishing Attack?
A message from an unknown or hidden number can be suspicious. A legitimate organization or service provider usually attempts to contact you openly. Carefully examine links in the message before clicking on them. Fake links may closely resemble a real website but can be malicious. Also, be cautious before calling a phone number provided in the message.
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