October 25, 2023

Business owner's survival guide: Protecting against smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (voice phishing) in a digital world

Business owner's survival guide: Protecting against smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (voice phishing) in a digital world

According to the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, 74 percent of data breaches involved a human element in some way, including social engineering attacks that trick individuals into sharing sensitive information with cyberattackers looking to make a big payday.

While phishing attacks have received a lot of attention, they aren’t the only tool that cybercriminals have in their toolkits. Criminals also have equally nefarious but slightly different techniques known as vishing and smishing. These other forms of social engineering attacks can also lead to data breaches, financial losses, and a compromised company reputation, making awareness and preventive measures for these methods crucial for business owners to prepare for.

To give businesses the information they need and fast-track their protective measures, we’ve created this brief business owner’s survival guide. Read on to learn more:

Smishing and vishing: What business owners need to know

Smishing and vishing are two increasingly common and sophisticated tactics in a cybercriminal's playbook.

Smishing is when a cyberattacker uses text messages laced with psychological tricks like urgent requests from impersonated authority figures or tempting offers in an attempt to lure unsuspecting individuals into revealing sensitive information or engaging with harmful content.

Vishing is a similarly sly but more bold social engineering scheme where cyberattackers directly call their potential victims in an attempt to manipulate them into divulging their personal information. These calls often masquerade as genuine calls from known, trusted entities such as banks, peer businesses, or government agencies to prey on trust and harvest sensitive information from the other person on the end of the line.

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The 5 keys to protecting against smishing and phishing attacks

Provide employee education and training

While ransomware and other cyberattacks receive a lot of attention, it’s important to include the impact of smishing and phishing in your employee education and awareness programs. In fact, according to the same Verizon breach report, 50 percent of all social engineering incidents in 2022 used one of these social engineering attacks as a stepping stone to ultimately committing a larger attack.

This employee education and training focusing on vishing and smishing can include:

  • Workshops to educate employees about the risks, red flags, and tactics used by attackers during these attacks.
  • How to recognize inconsistencies in messages, suspicious URLs, and unusual requests.
  • The potential consequences of falling victim to these attacks on both individual and business security.
  • Simulated exercises, such as Robokiller Enterprise’s quiz to get hands-on with what attacks might look like.

Establish clear communication protocols

Unfortunately, it’s a matter of when, not if, your employees will encounter a social engineering attack. That’s why it is important to encourage employees to report attempts promptly. Rapid reporting can prevent the spread of the attack and minimize its impact on the organization.

Take your training to the next level by setting up specific and clear communication protocols for reporting suspicious messages so they can be reported and blocked. These protocols can include designating specific channels and points of contact—such as a help desk number—where employees can report potential attacks.

Implement multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another key security measure that adds an additional layer of protection against unauthorized access that could result from a successful smishing or vishing attack.

Employing MFA significantly reduces the risk of breaches even if login credentials fall into the wrong hands by pairing a secondary authentication method—such as text messages, authenticator apps, and biometric verification—to ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive accounts or systems.

Conduct regular security audits and patching

Take your proactive security protections further by conducting regular security audits. These audits play a vital role in identifying vulnerabilities and potential entry points that attackers may exploit. By conducting routine assessments and thorough examinations of systems and networks, organizations can proactively uncover weaknesses and address them before they are exploited as a follow-on to a social engineering attack.

Relatedly, having a well-established patch management program is essential for helping your business to stay ahead of evolving threats. This program should prioritize and efficiently implement patches to secure both security systems and other critical systems within the organization.

Timely patching helps close known security gaps and minimizes the risk of cyberattacks that leverage known vulnerabilities; 75 percent of cyber attacks in 2020 involved targeting vulnerabilities that were at least two years old. That figure could be drastically reduced with a patch management program.

Leverage spam prevention tools with experts

Put the final nail in a cyber criminal’s attempts to leverage vishing or smishing attacks by using a powerful, real-time spam prevention tool such as Robokiller Enterprise.

Robokiller Enterprise uses advanced algorithms to meticulously screen incoming calls for your entire enterprise phone network, effectively pinpointing potential smishing and vishing attempts and dropping them before criminals can reach your employees.

Robokiller Enterprise regularly updates its database with the latest scam patterns and caller information, a proactive approach that ensures that your employees have access to real-time protection against emerging smishing and vishing techniques.

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Fortify your business against sophisticated scams

Your employees are the front line of your business, serving your customers and giving them the experiences they expect.

However, without the right training, tools, and support, your employee’s desire to deliver amazing customer service can also put your business at risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.

Give your employees the peace of mind that comes with knowing that each message and call they receive has been thoroughly screened by Robokiller Enterprise—so they can focus on what matters most.

Want to learn more about how criminals are attempting to use smishing and other attacks to target your business and how to stop them? Then make sure to get your own copy of our comprehensive resource, 6 ways to protect your team against text scams, here: Download Our Scam Protection Guide

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