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According to Proofpoint, SMS-related scams rose by over 328% in 2020. The following year, reports of smishing scams increased by 700% within the first six months. And based on Proofpoint’s 2022 State of the Phish report, 74% of businesses faced smishing attacks last year, up from 61% in 2020.
What do these figures mean? Smishing is on a steady upward trajectory and gets more severe by the day. This article defines smishing, explains how it works and spreads, discusses types of smishing attacks, and highlights how to stay safe.
Smishing is SMS phishing. It’s a variant of phishing where cyber actors send fraudulent texts to trick recipients into revealing their sensitive information or clicking malicious links. This type of social engineering often exploits human trust rather than technological faults. Like regular phishing actors, smishing artists always impersonate reputable individuals or companies, like your bank asking you for card details or your IT provider directing you to update passwords. As you key in this information or follow the instructions, the bad guys monitor your every move silently in the background.
The bad guys can use either of the following two methods or both:
Smishing actors use deception and fraud by masquerading as trusted people. They can exploit either of the three driving factors:
Cyber attackers have thousands of smishing tricks, but they all have one thing in common—impersonating trusted people or organizations to trick users into divulging sensitive information. We may not exhaust all of them because new tricks keep emerging each day. Here are five most common ones today:
As you must have noticed, smishing primarily relies on human error. As more people operate remotely and organizations increasingly adopt the cloud, the cybersecurity perimeter gradually shifts from the physical location of networks and devices to users, assets, and resources. That’s why you should adopt a people-oriented zero-trust policy.
Zero trust involves not implicitly trusting any user or device due to ownership and physical or network location. Instead, it defines the exact prerequisites users must meet to access your networks. For instance, you can use MFA as an extra authentication layer for all your sensitive databases. That way, the bad guys cannot compromise your networks even if they steal a trusted user’s login.
LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 20-200 employees across the Chicagoland area.
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