SMS Risks: Sheer Playful Mischief or Purposeful Fraud?
With the "mobility" of advertising beating the blues of the present-day economic climate, it might seem that the grass is greener from all the sides! The world would have been a different place if theory could have related to practice in all aspects. While banks, financial institutions, large consumer brands, retailers, and airlines are leaving no stone unturned to make the optimal utilization of mobile messaging, there are many businesses that are yet to explore and use this lucrative path of customer communication. Cause? Bad guys are acting smart and using mobile messaging to play the old game! The "human" nature of SMS risk demands businesses and consumers to be aware of the vulnerabilities so as to stay protected from the "Smishing" attacks!
- SMS Spoofing: SMS spoofing may puzzle you as you go on thinking "To trust or not to trust". A message that seems to be valid, at least cosmetically at first glance, may actually be intended to gain access to your confidential information. The attacker may falsify caller ID information and you may never know the true origin of the message. While you are left to exercise your individual judgment, it is very important for the advertisers to evaluate the risk components of their SMS campaigns. They can prevent the leakage of confidential information by ensuring that applications are not sending complete account numbers.
- Smishing: Smishing, the name given to SMS phishing attacks, are high-tech ways to trick a victim. You may end up disclosing personal information or downloading malware without ever realizing that you have been fooled by a phishing attack. The only weapon seems to be education and awareness. Banks deserve loads of appreciations for their initiatives to educate account holders on phishing attacks. Through these programs, banks clearly express that they do not seek confidential information via email. Similar education initiatives and programs need to be made available for SMS communication as well.
Security is the best policy. And it should necessarily find its presence in the conception, development, and use of a business concept. Security demands continuous attention! It should be embraced not only by the end-users with a list of Dos and Don’ts, but also by the software developers-right from the onset of application development. SMS alerts are gaining strength over time with marketers and advertisers making sincere efforts to safeguard their customers against fraud. The fact that most of the consumer-oriented applications, used today, are relatively safe may let us breathe a sigh of relief, but it will work to motivate those bad guys to find more sophisticated ways of Smishing. McAfee reported that mobile phone users in Australia and Iceland received text messages instructing them to "unsubscribe" from an expensive dating website which was nothing but a virus trap. In another instance, users were asked to download anti-virus software for their mobile phones and that was nothing but a phone virus! It’s pretty amazing to get a feel of the brain-power of Gen X and Gen Y… only if it could be diverted to something that makes life better. Sigh!