Texting is as second nature as breathing. Our phones are constantly at our side, and we tend to trust texts more than calls or emails. In fact, 97% of Americans text at least once a day, and over 5 billion people use some form of texting. With numbers like that, it’s hardly a surprise that texts have become a prime target for hackers; what is surprising, and unfortunate, is the number of people who fall for these Smishing scams.
What is Smishing?
Smishing, or SMS phishing, refers to any phishing attack that involves text messages. These attacks rely on social engineering to trick users into handing over important information or clicking infected links. While this attack sounds pretty straightforward, you might have a hard time spotting it; the hacker will try to impersonate someone you know personally, thus making his texts seem completely safe.
A hacker’s impersonation could involve multiple tactics. For instance, the hacker might mimic a friend’s emojis or copy a coworker’s punctuation. He could even pretend to be a bank or medical clinic and say he’s sending you an important file. Regardless of who he’s impersonating, the hacker will do his research, and he’ll try to make his mask as convincing as possible. However, there are several signs that he isn’t who he appears, and it’s important to constantly be on the lookout.
What are Common Signs of Smishing?
Although a hacker will go to great lengths to try and trick you, there are some clear signs that he isn’t who he claims. For instance, if the texter doesn’t sound like themselves… well, they’re probably not. And if the grammar is poor or the subject’s nonsensical, you might be talking to a novice hacker.
Additionally, if you receive a text from a number you don’t recognize, proceed with caution—it might be a hacking attempt. However, not all unknown numbers belong to hackers, and some hackers might spoof numbers you do know in order to catch you off guard. For this reason, it’s easy to fall for a hacker’s tricks, especially if you’re not paying attention.
How Can I Avoid Being Smished?
The best way to avoid being Smished is to practice awareness and stay updated on new threats. Cybersecurity best practices will keep you safer from Smishing, as well as other attacks. If you make yourself a difficult target, the hacker probably won’t go after you to begin with. And in the event that he does attack, alertness and preparation will help keep you safe and protected.
If you suspect someone’s account has been hacked, it’s worth telling them in person. Sometimes, something as simple as asking, “Did you send me this link?” can prevent you from becoming a victim. Additionally, you can prevent other coworkers from falling victim by letting them know of suspicious messages. Your company is only as strong as its weakest link, and no one wants that link to be them.
Smishing can have tremendous repercussions, but only if it’s successful. Make sure to keep an eye out for suspicious texts, and never be afraid to verify these texts in-person. As we continue using our phones to send funny cat pics and memes, Smishing attacks will only increase. But by practicing cybersecurity best practices, the hackers will lose, and texters will have the last LOL.