What Is Smishing And How Can You Avoid It
It happens almost daily, you get a normal looking text message with a link to something interesting, should you click on the link for more information? Do you know the person who sent you the email? Is it from an organization you trust? Could it be a Smishing attempt?
What? You've never heard of Smishing? Neither had I until recently. It seems that Smishing attacks are the latest trend from the guys in black hats who are out to take advantage of those who drop their guard. Smishing is when the sender uses a shortened version of the full URL because text messages have character limits. The use of shortened URLs isn't uncommon or necessarily a bad thing ... IF the shortened link actually takes you to the site it promises to. The problem comes in when the shortened code takes you to a completely different site than you were expecting and the site you end up on is used by cybercriminals to get you to download their malware.
If you're uncertain of a link you can simply ignore it or delete the message from your phone. If you think it might actually be something you need to follow up on there are a couple of ways you can check the shortened URL first before clicking on it.
You can go to sites like GetLinkInfo or ExpandURL to see where the link is actually taking you. If it's where you expected to go, fine. If it's somewhere else you've been the target of a Smishing attack.
Most cyber security people will tell you to follow a couople simple suggestions to avoid the Smish.
First, think before you click. Is this an expected message? Did you sign up for notifications? If not, you know what to do.
Second, be cautious of any sense of urgency. When the message contains words like 'urgent' or 'attention' it's probably going to lead to some really bad news if you follow that link.
We live in a time where the whole world is literally at our fingertips, and that's a wonderful thing. Just remember that there are bad guys out there trying to take advantage of that situation.
The next time you get a text that looks a little bit suspicious, stop, look, and think. Otherwise you jut might get Smished.