Smishing Giacomo Lanzi

Smishing: a fraud similar to phishing

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Cybercrime is increasingly targeting mobile devices and is constantly evolving. On social networks and through our personal contacts we increasingly receive scam attempts disguised as simple invitations. From the reports and press releases of the postal police we can see how in recent years the cases of Smishing have been increasing , which every year cause substantial economic damage to companies and individuals for hundreds of thousands of euros.

Smishing

What is Smishing

With the term “ Phishing “, we refer to all those fraudulent activities carried out by hackers with the purpose of deceiving an individual. Other purposes may be to steal sensitive information and use it to commit tax crimes.

Smishing differs from Phishing due to the use of SMS as a contact tool. The name comes from SMS and phishing .

This type of attack usually takes place by exploiting the naivety of the victim , inducing him to download self-installing malware or inviting him to fill out forms with his personal information. These malware disguise themselves as common applications, so as not to make the victim suspicious. In the event that the user releases information within these applications, the data entered will be automatically sent to the hacker, who can use them at will.

Similarities to phishing

Other types of Smishing, however, involve sending text messages apparently coming from our bank , from a credit organization, from a company or from an individual we know, which we trust. Usually these messages contain reports of suspected suspicious movements or problems with accessing banking services. By exploiting the trust that an individual places in a bank, the hacker leads his victim to a site bogus web.

In fact, the text of the message, in addition to containing an alarming message for the victim, also contains at least one link that redirects the victim to a fraudulent site.

We have also seen this type of site in phishing attacks , and they are specially created by the hacker with the hope that the request for sensitive data is completed. This can be in the form of a bank login form, very similar to the original one.

Then, various things can be done with the collected data. They could be resold, used to blackmail the victim or to steal other accounts that use the same username and password combination. The latter is why passwords should be unique and not shared with various services.

How to defend yourself

To defend against smishing attacks, it is not necessary to adopt sophisticated defense techniques.

Since these are scams, they could easily be avoided by ignoring the content of the fraudulent messages. In fact, this type of attack, in order to work, requires interaction from the victim . Without user interaction, it is impossible to implement this type of cyber attack.

Smishing scam

Detect Smishing Attempts.

Here are some types of suspicious messages or situations to watch out for and to assess where they come from:

Urgent Safety Alerts , messages promising free money or prizes, offers or gifts. These are all alarm bells. Most likely it is an attempted scam. Leveraging a sense of urgency is typical of these attacks. A similar technique is used in marketing to rush the customer into buying.

Financial institutions or merchants never use SMS to ask their customers to update their personal account information . Most importantly, they never ask for sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.

An SMS that contains this kind of request is probably a Smishing attempt. Furthermore, in case of doubts, you can contact your bank for explanations regarding the request, in order to ascertain whether it is actually a Smishing attempt or not.

Avoid clicking on links in a message if you are not sure that the SMS really comes from a trusted source.

Pay particular attention to telephone numbers that seem suspicious. These numbers are often linked to tools that have the functionality of sending SMS directly from a mailbox. Scammers use this system to avoid providing their phone number.

Never store login credentials, bank details, or sensitive personal information on your smartphone . If this foresight is used, it will be impossible for a hacker to obtain this data, even if he were to use malware.

Never save anything on a device, it is always advisable to use traditional storage systems, such as pen and paper or our dear and old memory. Alternatively, use a password management service like Bitwarden .

Always stay calm , even if the message text contains threats or deadlines. Never take the bait.

Report smishing attack attempts to the Postal Police. By reporting these scams you can prevent other people from falling into the same scam.

Smishing to the side

Conclusions

As we have seen in this article, scam attempts are constantly growing. Fortunately, however, in our support there are institutions that constantly investigate, blocking those responsible for these scams. We always remember to always be careful whenever you provide personal information. We must always check that the source to which we are entrusting our data is reliable.

When it comes to a business, however, we recommend that you consider a service to provide the right tools for employees to fight smishing or phishing. Our ethical phishing service can help pinpoint what corporate vulnerabilities are. In addition, we organize ad hoc training based on test results to help employees recognize phishing and smishing attempts.

To find out more about how our ethical phishing service could help your business, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer any questions.

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