Anyone who uses a smartphone has likely been the target of at least one smishing attack. Short for SMS phishing, smishing is an increasingly popular choice of attack vector, where the user is deceived into downloading virus or malware onto their mobile devices.
Smishing as a form of attack is of particular concern as people are trusting and responsive to text messages rather than email. Only 1 in 4 emails are opened by consumers, whereas 82 percent of text messages are read within five minutes.
Like phishing, smishing tries to trick users into giving up valuable information, such as bank login credentials, by convincing the recipient that the message has come from a trusted source. While these types of scams have been exploiting email accounts for decades, cybersecurity professionals should be worried about the dramatic rise in smishing attacks over the past couple of years.
Recently, a fraud alert was exposed involving fake texts from the NHS telling people they were eligible for their Covid-19 vaccination. This URL then took users to a convincing, yet false, NHS website that asked for personal details – unfortunately, these types of scams are exposed daily and are ever-increasing.
Even before the era of Covid-19, approximately 81 percent of organizations said their employees had experienced a smishing attack on their mobile devices. In 2020, after intermittent lockdowns were put in place around the world, smishing attacks proliferated exponentially. One study found that between March and July 2020, these attacks increased by an alarming 29 percent.
Why are people more vulnerable to smishing now?
Although phishing attacks have been around forever, there are at least a few reasons why smishing is more worrisome for IT security today:
It’s far easier to block email phishing on corporate-owned PCs, but today’s remote workers are now using their personal devices to access corporate apps and data. And frankly, there’s just no straightforward way to verify the authenticity of URLs on smartphones, so users often just click and hope for the best.
As of 2020, 2.8 billion users around the world now carry smartphones. The devices are literally everywhere,…