What is smishing in cyber security? The smishing definition is a type of phishing that uses SMS text messaging instead of traditional email used in phishing. In a smishing attack, the attacker will send a message to a victim containing a malicious link. The sender will often request sensitive information and will convey a sense of urgency. However, you should always stop and think before you reply, especially when sensitive information (bank details, credit cards, names, addresses, etc.) is on the line. 

What is Smishing vs Phishing?

Phishing uses email and fake links to gain access to your sensitive data. It has long been a part of the business world due to the broad use of email. Smishing uses text messages that contain malicious links. Smishing has become more common in a corporate environment, with attackers sending smishing messages. They pretend to be executives asking for sensitive information like corporate credit card information or business plans or data. 

Smishing Examples

If you get a text message from your CEO or leader, first check that the phone number is correct. If you don’t know your executive’s phone number, then try reaching out to verify another way like via Slack, Teams, or Email. Even if the message asks for immediate action, it’s always better to wait and think before acting.

Other common examples include:

  • Fake account warnings pretending to be businesses like PayPal or Amazon
  • Claims that you’ve won a contest or drawing

However, according to the NIST cybersecurity framework, you should continually identify security risks to your organization. So, you should monitor your employee’s risk of smishing. 

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What Do I Do if My Employees are Getting Smishing Messages?

You do not need to be concerned just because you receive an attempted smish. In fact, nowadays phishing and smishing attempts are so common that you can almost expect them. The only way you put yourself at risk is if you click on the link or attachment or respond. So, the best thing to do is not respond to smishing messages. 

You should encourage employees to immediately report smishing and other cyber-attack attempts. Ask them to send in screenshots of smishing attempts so that you can track them. If you have a lot of employees getting smishing attacks, it could mean that someone is trying very hard to breach your organization. This means you will need to up your protection and detection efforts. 

But, if you ignore it, then an attacker could get a response from an employee, leaving your organization vulnerable. That’s why it’s always important to identify any issues or potential vulnerabilities by tracking them. 

How to Prevent Smishing

As an IT team, it can be difficult to train your employees on how to react to smishing. You may have a large enterprise, but even if not, you will have a lot of employee data that you need to safeguard to prevent attacks. If an attacker gains the work emails, phone numbers, addresses and names of your employees, then they are a sure target for cyber-attacks like smishing. 

Detecting Smishing

Attackers will often use a Google Voice number to send smishing messages so that you cannot trace their location. They may send a message posing as company executives, the IRS, or delivery services demanding information to deliver a package. It’s always a good idea to double check before acting on a text message, regardless of who it is from.

Attackers can automate these messages to send out in masse, and all it takes is one click from you to become vulnerable.

Sometimes, you cannot prevent every attack. However, you can gain visibility into your network to know where you are vulnerable and gain ideas on how to secure your business. We offer a free security & risk assessment to help you do this. Contact us for a free Security & Risk Assessment and to discuss our cyber security services. We can tell you whether your business is vulnerable to cyber-attacks like smishing.


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