The Growing Threat of Smishing Attacks

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T&I Information Security LogoGrowing Threat of Smishing Attacks

The blurred line between professional and personal security is apparent in the increasing popularity of Smishing attacks.
“Smishing” is phishing that targets the SMS (hence the ungainly term—SMiShing, get it?) text messages we all spend so much time with these days.

On the rise

The rising number of high-profile smishing campaigns has prompted government agencies and mobile carriers to publish guides to help customer’s spot messages from fraudsters.
In one recent prominent campaign, scammers posed as an attractive young woman and targeted young men, directing them to a fake dating site designed to harvest their data.
In another example, the UK saw a major smishing surge after an attack caused a major breach at a bank. That attack was notable because the criminals started with a wave of phishing emails impersonating the bank, then followed up with text messages to those who had fallen for the email.
Combining the two mediums that way proved an effective method for criminals to establish a sense of legitimacy. Consumers tend to assume communications are genuine if they’re contacted in different ways.

Targeting business data

So far, the high-profile smishing campaigns have been aimed at consumers. Make no mistake, though: smishing is also a powerful technique for spearphishing an organization. Impersonating an authority figure via text can trick victims into sidestepping security concerns and giving up information.

Experts say preventing smishing attacks is a difficult challenge from a technical standpoint. Malicious texts are much harder to automatically identify and block than phishing emails, and companies can do nothing about stopping attacks targeting a user’s personal mobile phone.
You can do your part by never clicking links in text messages, and by using common sense. Always take an extra minute to confirm that a texted request actually comes from a legitimate source.

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