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What is smishing and how to fight it

Meaning and definition of smishing

Phishing is a phishing cybersecurity attack performed via mobile text messages, also known as SMS phishing. Victims, a type of phishing, are tricked into providing sensitive information to disguised attackers. SMS phishing may be using malware or malicious websites. This happens on many mobile SMS platforms, including non-SMS channels such as database-driven mobile messaging apps.

What is smishing?

As the definition of smishing indicates, the terms “SMS” (short message service, well known as SMS) and “phishing” are combined. To further define smishing, it is categorized as a type of social engineering attack that relies on leveraging human trust rather than technical exploits.

When a cybercriminal “phishes”, it sends a fraudulent email designed to trick recipients into clicking on malicious links. Phishing only uses text messages instead of email.

Basically, these cyber criminals aim to steal your personal information and can use it to commit fraud and other cyber crimes. This usually involves stealing money. It’s usually your money, but it can also steal your company’s money.

Cybercriminals often use one of two methods to steal this data.

  1. Malware: The smishing URL link may entice you to download malware (malicious software) that installs itself on your mobile phone. This SMS malware can spoof a legitimate app to enter sensitive information and send this data to cybercriminals.

  2. Malicious Websites: Links in smishing messages can lead to fake websites that require you to enter sensitive personal information. Cyber criminals can easily steal information using custom-made malicious websites designed to mimic legitimate websites. Smithing text messages often pretend to be from a bank and request personal or financial information such as bank accounts or ATM numbers. Providing information is the same as giving the key to your bank balance to a thief.

As more and more people use their personal smartphones for work (BYOD, or a tendency called “bring your own device”), smishing is becoming a threat to businesses and consumers. So it’s no wonder that smishing has become the predominant form of malicious text messaging.

Cybercrime against mobile devices is on the rise, as is the use of mobile devices. Apart from the fact that text messages are the most common use of smartphones, several other factors make it a particularly insidious security threat. To explain, let’s explain how smishing attacks work.

How does Smishing work?

Social engineering principles allow smishing attackers to manipulate a victim`s decisionmaking. The driving factors of this deception are threefold:

Trust: By posing as legitimate individuals and organizations, cybercriminals lower their target`s skepticism. SMS texts, as a more personal communication channel, also naturally lower a person`s defenses against threats.

Context: Using a relevant situation that allows an attacker to build an effective disguise. The message is designed to looks personalized in order to avoid suspicion.

Emotion: By heightening a target`s emotions, attackers can override their target`s critical thinking and spur them into rapid action. Using these methods, attackers write messages that will get a recipient to take action.

Typically, attackers want the recipient to open a URL link within the text message, where they then are led to a phishing tool prompting them to disclose their private information. This phishing tool often comes in the form of a website or app that also poses under a false identity.

How does smishing spread?

As mentioned earlier, smishing attacks are carried out through both traditional text messaging apps and non-SMS messaging apps. However, due to its deceptive nature, SMS phishing attacks are primarily continuous and unnoticed.

The smishing scam is amplified because users have false confidence in the security of text messages.

First, most people are aware of the risk of email fraud. You probably know that you have doubts about the general email “Hello, check this link”. Exclusion of genuine personal messages is usually the main danger signal for email spam fraud.

When people use the phone, they don’t pay much attention. Many people think smartphones are safer than computers. However, smartphone security is limited and cannot always be directly protected from smishing. Ultimately, no matter what method is adopted, these systems require little beyond your trust and misunderstanding to succeed. As a result, smishing can attack mobile devices with text messaging capabilities.

Android devices are the leading platform on the market and ideal targets for malware text messages, while iOS devices are equal opportunity targets. Although Apple’s iOS mobile technology has a reputation for security, a single mobile operating system cannot protect users from phishing attacks. False reassurance can make users particularly vulnerable, regardless of platform.

Another risk factor is using your smartphone on the go. Often when you’re distracted or in a hurry. This means that if you receive a message requesting bank information or using a voucher, you are more likely to be inadvertently caught and react unintentionally.

Types of smishing attacks

Each smishing attack uses a similar method, but the display can be significantly different. Attackers can use a variety of identities and prerequisites to keep these SMS attacks up-to-date.

Unfortunately, these attacks are constantly being reinvented, making a comprehensive list of smishing types almost impossible. You can use some established scam assumptions to uncover features that help you find a smishing attack before you become a victim. These are some of them:

  • COVID19 smishing. The COVID19 smishing scam is based on a legitimate recovery program developed by governments, medical institutions and financial institutions to recover from the COVID19 pandemic. Attackers use these systems to manipulate the health of victims and fund the threat of fraud. Warning signs including contact tracing requesting sensitive information (social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc.)

  • Tax-based financial remedies such as stimulating checks. Public health security updates. Inquiries regarding the completion of the US Census. Financial Services Smishing

  • Financial services smishing attacks. Nearly everyone uses banking and credit card services, making them susceptible to both generic and institutionspecific messages. An attacker poses as a bank or other financial institution for an ideal disguise to commit financial fraud.

  • Gift smishing. Gift smishing often suggests free service or product promises from reputable retailers and other companies. This will be the number of sweepstakes, shopping awards, or other free offers. If an attacker raises the excitement by suggesting a “free” idea, it acts as a logical override so that he can act faster. Signs of this onslaught could be a limited offer or a limited selection of free gift cards.

  • Invoice or order confirmation smishing. Confirmation phishing is a recent purchase of a service or an incorrect confirmation of an invoice. You may be provided with follow-up links to manipulate your curiosity or take immediate action to trigger the fear of unwanted billing. Evidence of this scam could be a lack of a string in the order confirmation text or the company name.

  • Customer Service Smithing. Customer Support The smishing attacker pretends to be a trusted company support staff to help resolve the issue. With this premise, frequently used technologies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon and e-commerce companies are effective camouflage for attackers. Attackers usually claim that there is a problem with their account and provide steps to fix it. Requests can be as simple as using a rogue login page, but in more complex schemes you may be asked to provide a genuine account recovery code in an attempt to reset your password. Support-based smishing scheme alerts include billing, account access, unusual activity, or issues related to resolving recent customer complaints.