What is SMS phishing? How can you prevent yourself from falling prey to Smishing?

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Phishing that involves sending out a fraudulent text message is called Smishing.
  • Smishing involves malware-laden text messages that urge the recipient to provide personal or financial information to an unauthorised user.
  • To protect yourself against Smishing, you should avoid text messages that come from an suspicious or unknown source.

If you have heard about the new TikTok Pro scam, then we are sure you have already introduced yourself to the fraudulent and corrupt practice called Smishing.

With the increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, cybercrime has also increased significantly mainly because hackers and miscreants are abusing the health and financial vulnerability that people are facing.

There are n number of people across the globe who have received spam SMS texts wherein they are being asked to share their personal or financial information either for COVID-19 related donation or for health concerns. Looking at how vulnerable the situation, most people have fallen prey to these malware-laden, nefarious texts and have gotten their systems hacked or choked. This practice of sending out fraudulent or malicious SMS texts is called Smishing.

What is Smishing?

“Smishing” is an act of “phishing” wherein the defaulter sends out a suspicious text message tricking the recipient into downloading or opening a malware link or app onto his/her mobile phone. Smishing is a portmanteau for SMS and Phishing. In Smishing, the message is sent over SMS instead of the mail. These messages on the lines of “You have won a prize of Rs 50,00,000 – click on the link to claim the amount” or “You bank is credited by 6,00,000, give your account details to claim the same”.  These messages act as a bait that the recipient falls for and ends up giving sensitive information that can be used against him/her. 

Smishing messages often involve urgency or immediacy forcing the recipient to resort to the call-to-action option. For example, these messages will involve alerts like debit card locked, credit card attached, urgent need for donation; and the person who receives the text will be obligated to immediate response. In some cases, these messages lure the recipient with texts like “you have won a free trip to XYZ resort” or “you are eligible to free XYZ membership” etc. 

How to avoid Smishing attacks?

One of the main reasons why Smishing attacks have become so popular is because unlike emails, text messages don’t filter out spam or suspicious sources. Thus, there is a high possibility that you too have gotten such messages. But just because you have ignored it once, doesn’t mean you will do the same later on as well, which is why you need to prevent your information from such attacks. 

  1. Avoid messages that you receive from an unauthorised or unknown source. These messages are not only limited to SMS and can potentially expand to messages on apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. 
  2. Do not click on any links unless you know the source where it is coming from; if so is not the case, then best ignore it. 
  3. Try to install apps from credible sources like App Store or Google Play Store, instead of doing the same from a text message or from a link shared by an unauthorised user.  
  4. Never share any personal or financial information with an unknown source. No legitimate company will ask for your personal information without prior alert or formal warning
  5. SMS phishing usually involves hyperlinks that direct you to a new website, enable web filters if so is the case. Your filters will prevent you from accessing any malicious site. 

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Author: Sham