Short for "SMS phishing" Smishing is a type of cyber attack that attempts to trick individuals into giving away sensitive information via text message. While Smishing isn't a new form of threat it is becoming increasingly common for businesses of all sizes. Employees must learn to identify and report suspicious messages before company data is compromised to successfully avoid smishing attacks.
How Do Smishing Attacks Work?
Smishing attacks come as a text message that appears to be from a reputable source such as a bank, government agency, or retailer. In a business scenario the SMS may appear to be sent by a member of your executive team or a trusted external vendor. The messages involved can be very sophisticated and appear to be legitimate which makes it difficult for employees to identify.
The most common form of smishing messages ask the recipient to click a link or call a number to update their account information. When the recipient complies with the request, the attacker then uses that information to steal business data or drain accounts.
How Can You Spot a Smishing Attack?
Smishing attacks continue to become more and more sophisticated. Employees must be on high alert and educated on how to spot the following smishing red flags.
A Suspicious Sender – When you first glance at a smishing message it will likely appear to be from a legitimate source. It is important to encourage your employees to double check the sender's phone number and details before responding, especially if the message is asking for you to click a link or provide any account information.
Urgency in Implied – Hackers often create a sense of urgency in their targets to get them to do what they need quickly without thinking it through. If a text messages requests immediate action it should automatically be treated with caution.
Sensitive Information is Requested – Remind employees that your organization and vendors will never request sensitive information (such as passwords, bank account numbers, or credit card details) via SMS message. If they receive a message asking for any sensitive information they should report the message and ignore the request.
Grammar and Spelling Mistakes – Scam messages often have poor grammar and spelling errors. Employees should remain on the lookout for questionable formatting and/or unusual links.
Requests to Click a Link or Call a Number – Encourage employees to only engage with known contacts and not to click on links from an unknown source.
How to Protect Your Business from Smishing Attacks
While promoting employee awareness of smishing attacks is important, businesses should also consider the following protective measures to help reduce the risk.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) – One way to secure your company's devices is by using Mobile Device management. The right solution can help monitor incoming messages for suspicious activity, block malicious content, and prevent employees from accessing unauthorized websites or downloading malicious apps.
Two Factor Authentication – 2FA or MFA adds an additional step that requires your employees to provide two forms of authentication to access their accounts. This makes it more difficult for attackers to access sensitive information and acts as an additional layer of protection to your company's data.
Antivirus Software – A strong antivirus solution can help detect and remove malicious software and protects your business from smishing attacks.
Smishing is yet another way that hackers are gaining access to businesses data and wreaking havoc on organization's of all sizes. It's imperative that you educate your employees about the risks and implement robust security solutions to protect your business. If you receive a suspicious message, avoid interacting with the content and notify your IT or security team immediately.