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  • Zack Davis

How Hackers Can Get Into Your Cellphone


Over the past few years, as people have begun to conduct more shopping and work on their mobile devices, people are more likely to receive text messages not just from friends and family, but from corporations and other AI systems.


This is because retailers have begun bypassing bloated email inboxes where they feel they cannot stand out against the onslaught. They are urging consumers to sign up for SMS alerts for shipment tracking and reminders of sales. The medical industry has also joined the trend. Pharmacies send automated refill notices and doctor’s offices send SMS appointment reminders.


These kinds of texts can be convenient for everyday life. However, many hackers are using this new type of texting to gain access to personal data on your phone. Cybercriminal groups frequently use phishing links via SMS messages to gain that involuntary access.


Phishing by SMS is “smishing,” and it’s becoming a growing problem.


Case in point, in 2020, smishing rose by 328%, and during the first six months of 2021, it skyrocketed nearly 700% more. Phishing via SMS has become a large risk area. Especially as companies adjust data security to a more remote and mobile workforce.


Why Am I Receiving a Text from Myself?

If you haven’t yet received a text message only to find your own phone number as the sender, then you likely will soon. This smishing scam is fast making the rounds and causes a lot of confusion. Confusion is good for scammers because people lean into their curiosity instead of their suspicion. It often causes people to click a malicious link in a message to find out more details or understand if they mistakenly sent themselves something.


Cybercriminals can make it look like a text message they sent you is coming from your number. They use VoIP connections and clever spoofing software.


If you ever see this, it’s a big giveaway that this is an SMS phishing scam. It's in your best interest to immediately delete the message and if possible, not even open it at all. Some carriers will also offer the option to delete and report a scam SMS.


Popular Smishing Scams to Keep an Eye Out For

Smishing is very dangerous right now because many people are not aware of it. There’s a false sense of security. They believe you'd have given out your number to some illegitimate company or spread your information on social media.


But this isn’t the case. Mobile numbers are available through both legitimate and illegitimate methods. Advertisers can buy lists of them online. Data breaches that expose customer information are up for grabs on the Dark Web. This includes mobile numbers.


Less than 35% of the population knows what smishing is.


It’s important to understand that phishing email scams are morphing. They've evolved into SMS scams that may look different and be harder to detect.


For example, you can’t check the email address to see if it’s legitimate. Most people won't know the legitimate phone number that Amazon shipping updates come from.


Text messages also commonly use shortened URLs. These mask the true URL, and it’s not as easy to hover over it to see it on a phone as it is on a computer to see where the link is sending you.


You need to be aware of what’s out there. Here are some of the popular phishing scams that you may see in your own text messages soon.


Issue With a Delivery or Package

In this day in age, who isn't receiving numerous packages a week? This smishing scam leverages that fact and masquerades as a known shipper like USPS, FedEx, or even Amazon. It states that there is a package held up for delivery to you because it needs more details or verification of your personal information.


The link can take users to a form that captures personal information used for identity theft. One tactic using this scam is to ask for a small monetary sum to release a package.

Scammers created the site to get your banking information or social security number. In the case of shipping issues, never refer to strange SMS messages.


Fake Appointment Scheduling

This scam happened to a community in South Carolina. They had recently had an installation of AT&T fiber internet lines in their neighborhood. Following the installation, AT&T did a customer drive to sign people up for the service.


During this time, one homeowner reported that he received a text message. It pretended to be from AT&T about scheduling his fiber internet installation. He thought it was suspicious because the address they gave was wrong. The scammer had wanted him to text back personal details.


Claim Your Free Gift

Another recent smishing scam is a text message that leaves it up for interpretation who it's from. It says, “Thank you for your recent payment. Here is a free gift for you.” It includes a link at the bottom of the message.


This is a widespread scam that many have noted online. And it’s an example of a scammer using a common fact. People pay bills frequently and would like to believe they get a small reward, or gift, for doing so as a promotion from a larger corporation. Scammers use this knowledge of human behavior to gain personal data from people.


Do You Need Assistance Increasing Your Mobile Device Security?

Smishing scams are extremely clever and can easily infect your device with malware. Do you have the proper security precautions (mobile antivirus, DNS filtering, etc.)?


If not, reach out to us. We know just how to help you!


Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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