If your primary cell phone is a smartphone, you’re at risk of a “smishing” attack. Similar to phishing attacks, a bad actor will utilize text messages containing malicious links in order to get you to give up personal information, bank account numbers, etc by posing as a trusted source.
These types of attacks have been on the rise in the last few years. As a byproduct of the global pandemic, more employees have been working from home, which has increased the likelihood of falling victim to a phishing scam. From March to July of 2020, smishing attacks in particular increased by 29%.
While attacks via sms messaging isn’t new, it is cause for some security concerns. In general, personal mobile phones don’t have great cybersecurity compared to a work-issued laptop, for example. It’s easier to block spam and filter email addresses through a business PC rather than your personal mobile device.
Another thing to consider is how often and frequently text messages are opened and read. According to one study, text message open rates are around 98%, while email open rates are at about 20%. The threat of a smishing attack in this case is exponentially higher, since people more often check their personal messages over their work emails.
While receiving a phishing email leaves time to contemplate the validity of the message, receiving a text often gives people a sense of urgency. You might even open a message without paying much attention. So many of us are on our phones while doing other things, that a quick tap on the screen might occur without much thought.
The worst may occur if a hacker’s social engineering tactics are successful. While clicking a bad link might not do much alone, if you utilize corporate apps on your phone, it is possible for someone to wiggle their way into a private business account. This is where maintaining good cyber hygiene comes into play– using 2FA or multi-factor authentication, login verification, password management and other types of security can create a road block for bad actors.
No matter what types of cyber threats are out there, education and knowledge starts with the end user. People are the best defense against these cyber attacks, and knowing what to look out for can be the difference between stopping a cyber-criminal or opening the door for them.
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