Phishing is among the most common cyber exploits, and it has affected thousands of users so far. Scammers use various tactics to entice the victims, some of which can be difficult to spot.
Some recent cases include sending out SMS to users. These might be saying that Netflix is suspending their accounts or that their PayPal accounts need verification.
The best way to prevent falling victim to these types of attacks is increasing awareness. So, let’s learn more about mobile phishing and how to recognize it.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a prevalent cyberattack type, and it has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. The whole purpose of it is to trick the user into doing a specific action. Usually, it includes clicking a malicious link, downloading an infected file, or leaving sensitive information on a fake website. There are a couple of different forms of phishing, name:
- Spear Phishing
- Email Phishing
- Mobile Phishing
Spear Phishing is the most sophisticated form of phishing. It usually targets a specific individual. It uses detailed information (name, company name, address, phone number, etc.) to gain trust and succeed in the attack. One of the most famous data breaches in history used spear phishing to execute the attack – the Democratic National Committee Hack.
Email phishing is the most prevalent form of phishing, and people fall victim to it daily. The hacker creates fake websites with legit-looking names, aiming to mimic a reputable organization or a company. Then, they send out massive numbers of emails to unsuspecting victims. These emails urge receivers to perform various actions, such as verifying their PayPal or Netflix account.
Whaling is like spear phishing. But instead of regular individuals or employees, hackers target C-level executives, such as CEOs, CTOs, COOs, and CFOs. The most attacked sectors include banking, healthcare, and tech companies.
Mobile phishing has become popular due to a high number of victims that take the bait. It is one of the most accessible forms of phishing attacks because the malicious data is delivered via mobile devices. Hackers use either SMS or calls to reach victims. Because this form of phishing has become more prevalent, let’s dig deeper into it.
How Can You Recognize Mobile Phishing?
Mobile phishing has become so popular in recent years for a couple of reasons:
- it’s accessible
- it enables scammers to pass spam filters with ease
- unknowing customers are likely to fall for it
But users can prevent this from happening by educating themselves more about how to recognize it.
1. Is the Message Relevant?
When you receive a random message from an unknown number, don’t click anything or respond. First, consider whether the text is relevant. For example, if the SMS says you had won a prize, see whether you’ve applied for any competitions. Common scam tactics include:
- Gift cards
- Parcel pickup
- Mystery boxes
- PayPal verification
2. Beware of Suspicious Links
Whenever you receive a message that contains a link, don’t click it. Especially if it’s from someone that you don’t know. Scammers often try to pose as legitimate companies. But URLs tend to be different from the official websites. Do a quick Google search and check the legitimacy before opening anything.
3. Look for Grammar Mistakes
Another great indicator is grammar and spelling mistakes. Some scammers don’t pay too much attention to detail, so their texts are full of weird errors. Moreover, scammers often live in foreign countries where English is not the official language. Look for:
- Spelling errors
- Grammar errors
- Incorrect capitalization
- Punctuation errors
4. Take Everything with a Grain of Salt
Scammers are creative when it comes to their tactics. Some of them even go as far as to personalize each message before sending it out. So, if you receive a message that uses your full name but includes a link or an unknown sender, stays clear of it. They can find your information through various resources such as social media or the dark market.
5. When in Doubt – Call the Company
Some malicious actors invest a lot of time and effort into creating the perfect scam. They create what seems like legit websites and pretend to represent reputable companies. Some, as mentioned, also personalize their text messages. So, even if the text looks legitimate, before responding or opening links, contact the company directly. This way, you can check whether they were the ones who, in fact, contacted you.
Everyone can become a victim of phishing scams. Although some of them are pretty obvious, others can be challenging to spot. As a prevention measure, use security software such as VPNs, antiviruses, spam filters, and firewalls. And don’t forget that raising awareness is the most effective prevention measure out there. Always do your research, take everything with a grain of salt, and inform yourself about the latest scams.