In today's hyper-digital and interconnected world, no form of technology is safe from exploitation—including SMS text messaging.
According to the FBI’s 2023 Internet Crime Complaint Center,the FBI found that losses due to the full range of phishing scams cost Americans more than $10.3 billion, financially hurting more than 300,000 people.
More commonly known as smishing scams, or SMS phishing, these attacks pose significant threats to businesses. Once an employee falls victim, smishing scams can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage. These attacks are tempting to cybercriminals because they hope that by targeting employees and customers with deceptive messages they can then steal sensitive information, trick users to share data or enable access, or gain unauthorized access to company systems.
While these attacks are increasing in number, the steps that businesses can use to thwart them are equally effective—if implemented correctly. Through a combination of employee awareness and tools that help to detect and block fraudulent SMS messages, businesses can proactively protect themselves from the worst of these attacks.
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Employee engagement: The dos and don'ts
As with most cybersecurity programs, employees are the frontline of defense. When they are armed with the right information, training, and solutions, they can be a powerful force to prevent smishing.
Here are just a few of the key ways:
- Educate employees: Conduct regular training sessions to raise awareness about smishing and its potential consequences. Teach employees how to identify suspicious text messages, recognize common smishing tactics, and emphasize the importance of not clicking on unknown links or sharing sensitive information via SMS.
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA): Encourage the use of multi-factor authentication for all accounts and systems to add an extra layer of security for employee accounts.
- Establish reporting procedures: Create a clear and easily accessible process for employees to report any suspected smishing attempts they encounter. Prompt reporting can help IT teams and security personnel take immediate action, such as blocking malicious sources or warning other employees of ongoing scams.
- Regularly test employees on scam identification: Reinforce awareness and vigilance against smishing threats by conducting simulated smishing attacks. This gives businesses the data they need to evaluate their employees' responses and identify areas for improvement.
- Don't use SMS for sensitive communications: Discourage the use of SMS for sending sensitive information, such as login credentials, account information, or financial data. Instead turn employees toward more secure communication channels, such as encrypted email or secure messaging apps.
- Don't trust unsolicited messages: Instruct employees never to trust unsolicited messages, even if they appear to be from familiar sources.
- Don't click on suspicious links and attachments: Advise employees to avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from text messages that seem unusual, particularly if they come from unknown senders. Clicking on such links can lead to malware infections or direct them to phishing websites designed to steal their credentials.
Recognizing the danger: how to spot common scams
Smishing scams come in a wide range of forms, so understanding their tactics is key to effectively preventing them.
Some of the most common forms include:
- Offering free gifts, special offers, or giveaways, which entice recipients into clicking on malicious links or sharing personal information.
- Impersonating reputable companies and organizations to trick recipients into divulging sensitive data.
- Receiving unexpected links from unknown senders—even if the message appears to come from a friend—as they could be a sign of a hacked or impersonated account.
- Requesting personal information, such as login credentials or financial data, should be avoided at all costs.
Implementing a strong defense: Spam call solutions for small business
Organizations that want to take their smishing defense game to the next level can use spam call solutions. In addition to helping small businesses tackle the increasing number of unwanted and fraudulent phone calls and smishing scams, these solutions are easy to use and manage.
Leading spam call prevention tools offer:
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Bringing it all together
The threat of cyber attacks shows no signs of stopping; fortunately, businesses of all sizes have more tools than ever to fight back.
While the importance of regular training and education cannot be overstated, providing extra protection through the use of a leading spam call solution is key to maintaining a strong defense and thwarting smishing threats. These measures not only help protect sensitive data but also demonstrate a business’s commitment to cybersecurity—ensuring a more secure environment for their employees and customers.
Want to learn more about how to protect your employees' mobile devices from the worst of tomorrow’s cyber threats? Then make sure to download our free eBook, Why mobile devices represent an emerging security risk, now!