How to Protect Against Smishing Attacks

Smishing: What Is It?

Smishing is a cybersecurity attack conducted through text messages, specifically SMS or other messaging platforms. It involves attackers posing as trusted entities to deceive targets into making cybersecurity errors, such as sharing confidential information. Essentially, smishing is a form of phishing conducted over text messages.

How Do Hackers Execute Smishing Attacks?

  • Attackers craft messages that mimic trusted entities such as banks, retailers, or government agencies to create a sense of legitimacy.
  • Victims are selected based on demographics or affiliations, tailoring smishing messages to specific areas or institutions.
  • Social engineering techniques are employed to manipulate emotions.
  • Smishing messages may include seemingly harmless attachments (e.g., pictures, videos, documents, links) that contain malware (software that can harm your device or capture and share private information) such as viruses, adware, spyware, trojans, or ransomware.

The Challenges in Detecting Smishing Attacks:

  • Hackers may use Caller ID spoofing techniques and burner phones to conceal their identity and cover their tracks to remain anonymous.
  • Smishing takes advantage of the simplicity of text messages, which are shorter and lack graphics or formatting, making them easier to spoof (fake) and appear convincing.
  • Unlike phishing emails, smishing texts offer fewer opportunities for detection, as they are concise, minimizing the chances of spotting grammatical errors or irregularities.

Types of Smishing Messages:

  • Prize Claim and Gift Activation Smishing
  • Verification Smishing
  • Tech Support Deception
  • Fraud Warning Smishing
  • Emergency messages

How to Avoid Getting "Smished":

  • Be cautious of urgent messages; pause and think before responding. Legitimate sources rarely ask for sensitive information through text messages. Verify contact details from official sources.
  • Activate multi-factor authentication (MFA) on accounts to enhance security during suspicious login attempts.
  • Avoid clicking links in text messages; they may lead to malicious websites.
  • Call your bank before acting on any banking requests received via text or email.
  • Never share usernames and passwords through text messages, as they may be compromised.
  • Stay vigilant about the latest smishing tactics and threats. Awareness serves as an initial defense.

Smishing Example:

Text Message Example

Sat, Jan 18, 7:39 AM
Hello mate, your FEDEX package with tracking code GB-6412-GH83 is waiting for you to set delivery preferences:

WARNING SIGN: URL mentioned in the message does not indicate an official FedEx.

United States Postal Service (USPS) imitated by Smishing Scammers

Recipients receive deceptive text messages from fraudulent USPS which are intended to lure them into revealing personal or financial details. The attacker employs this method with the aim of collecting sensitive information such as credit card numbers.


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Article ID: 596
Tue 1/16/24 10:37 AM
Wed 4/10/24 2:57 PM