Smishing Means Big Trouble In A Tiny Text

SMS text phishing, or smishing, is on the rise for us all. Smishing has been around for a while, and is gaining in popularity for cyberthieves. Texts are being sent to smartphones asking recipients to go to a link or respond with personal information. Most often, these texts contain a great sense of urgency to get a reply. Perhaps they claim your payment card was used potentially fraudulently and you need to take action. That’s a rather common one.

Email scams are becoming more difficult for phishers to succeed. Public awareness of users and efforts by major email servers to clamp down on phishing is beginning to make a difference. Cybercriminals are known to be innovative and smishing looks like the next scam for success. A study by Kaspersky Lab reveals that between April and July of this year, smishing rates increased by 300%. That should be enough to alert businesses, employees, and users of all kinds to learn more.

A big part of the problem is that texting isn’t filtered like emails are. Research shows that text recipients are more likely to respond on a mobile device as opposed to a computer. They’re almost always by our sides and they’re quick and easy, paving the road for prosperous smishing. Experts suggest ways for you to minimize smishing risks. Hopefully SMS providers will begin applying safety filters for texts the way providers currently do for emails.

– Anti-malware is available for smartphones and should be used from a reputable provider (Apple iPhones have some built-in protection, but rely completely on it). Always make sure your mobile phone has the latest operating system updates installed. Still, common sense and vigilance are your best defense.

– Know what smishing looks like. Texts saying you’ve won a contest, those from the IRS, or your bank or payment card company needs a response and the like should be suspect. Any text using urgency as the message are popular and most effective for smishing. Always verify with a phone call or go directly to what you know is a secure website before responding. Don’t reply to questionable texts.

– Never download apps offered in texts. Always download from an official app store and always avoid sideloading from unofficial sites.

– Don’t post your mobile number on social media or other public forums. It’s like giving cyberthieves a blueprint for success.

– If you get a suspicious text and are an AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile customer, immediately forward to “SPAM” (short code 7726). It alerts those carriers to identify and block any further smishing messages. Next, always delete the text.