Did you know that there are 6.648 billion (83.72%) people worldwide who own a mobile phone and in Saudi Arabia alone, 97.5% of its society owns one? Also, did you know that the average time people spend on their phones is 3 hours and 43 minutes?
With most of the world connected to their mobile phones on a daily basis, this incited cyber criminals to level up their SMS phishing attacks.
It’s no wonder that the number of smishing attacks has increased in the last couple of years. In 2021, 74% of enterprises were targeted by smishing attacks, a 13% more increase than increase over 2020. Individuals receive an average of 13 text messages a day, and the probability of one of those messages being a smishing attack is high (Zipwhip’s The 2021 state of texting Report).
To avoid being a victim of this attack, awareness is key. Unfortunately, last year when people were quizzed about their awareness of smishing, only 23% of them answered correctly, a surprising 8% less than the year before.
So, how are these cyber criminals currently luring in their victims?
Current Smishing Trends:
1- Delivery service-related messages have always been the number one topic for SMS, email, and voice phishing attacks.
It’s only logical that as eCommerce grows, so does the number of online shoppers around the world. The number of online shoppers is estimated to be 2.14 billion in 2021. Over the last few years, the number of online shoppers has increased. As internet connectivity grows around the world and online purchasing becomes more convenient, this growth should come as no surprise.
Receiving a text message from a delivery service company will not be something a person would be suspicious of since they are waiting for their online order to be delivered especially when it is received during the holidays. But an attentive person would quickly notice the indictors of a fake text message. When receiving an SMS from a company, they will never use a personal phone number or have incorrect grammar or structure. So, be on the lookout for these signs.
*This is an example of a fake delivery message disguised as the Saudi Post (SPL). once the person clicks on the link and enters their card details, then you have been officially compromised.
2- Messages claiming to be from the bank.
When you receive an alarming message stating that a significant amount of money had been withdrawn from your account, then you would panic and interact with the message blindly. This has resulted in many instances where people have had malware installed on to their phone due to the text message it is containing a link to “resolve the problem”. The mistake of taking action without caution is the downfall of many.
With contactless payment methods being on the rise, there have been many incidents where people receive a message from “Apple” warning them that their Apple pay wallet has been deactivated and should click on the link to reactivate. With this convincing Apple Pay text scam, hackers are attempting to phish consumers of their personal information. Apple has warned of this scam and asks its users to always sign into their account to double-check if there really is a problem.
*An example of fake SMS text claiming to be from a Saudi Bank ( AlAhli NCB) First of all, no bank sends from a personal phone number. The link attached is a fake website that can steal your information or cause malware to be installed on your device.
3- Marketing-related messages claiming you’ve won a prize.
Have you ever received a text informing you that you’ve won a prize or a voucher to something you’ve never interacted with but urges you to quickly visit their website by clicking the link attached? If yes, then hopefully you haven’t clicked anything on the message. The first indicator that this is a scam is that you received a message from something you didn’t register for or a brand you didn’t interact with. This way is commonly used by cybercriminals so they can pull you in by claiming that you’ve won a chance for a free coupon and all you need to do is click on a link and enter your information. As soon as you click on the click your device and info has been compromised.
*As you can see here, a person was sent a text message full of spelling errors from private number claiming they have won a prize. This is a prime and clear example of Smishing.
4- Receiving text messages claiming to be from a government entity
Since the beginning of the COVD-19 outbreak, governments have been contacting their recipients via SMS to notify them of any urgent news or updates, since text messages are the fastest way to reach people. These messages usually contain a link redirecting to a phishing website urging people to fill out a form claiming to be a mandatory step for every citizen. Sadly, these messages are still being sent and many are falling into these traps due to them not examining the sender and the content of the message thoroughly.
Be careful before clicking anything!
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