Text Message Danger

Pandemic thieves want your phone!

This issue effects all users of any text messaging App on any smart phone.

I recently received an apparently helpful text offering money for rent and utility “benefits.” So many people are in need and we all hear of good samaritans and other possible avenues of relief. Maybe this is one of those?

Smishing Screenshot
Screenshot from iPhone 11 iOS 14

Don’t click on links in text messages!

Many people already know not to open documents attached to unfamiliar emails.
We understand that these attachments can contain viruses and other malicious contents. Blast emails sent to whole mailing lists are known as phishing attacks.
Some are aware that emails can look like they come from within the company or from someone we know. Those are used to Spearphish information from specific individuals [maybe you?]
Links in emails can expose credentials, account access and even the processor of your device vulnerable to complete access to criminals.

What some might not know is, it is just as dangerous to click on a link in a text message [maybe even more so, as the phone always knows where you are]. When a link in text message is used to hack a device or otherwise compromise the individual it is called “Smishing.”

Text message links can be devastating

The impacts of clicking on a Smishing link can be quite severe. It’s possible for a criminal to gain complete access to the device exposing all keystrokes, account numbers and passwords, as well as all contacts and related information. The F.T.C. has an informative webpage describing the ways links in text messages are being used by the nefarious. They range from complete access to the phone to coaxing authentication credentials from the unsuspecting.
Truth is, most of these attacks aren’t sophisticated enough to actually gain control over your device. Typically the link will direct you to some sort of compromised or malevolent website where you will be prompted for some sort of credentials. Do Not Go Any Further – and you have most likely averted that attack vector.

What to do if you get these kinds of texts?

Thing is, we are not helpless to suffer the barrage of these fraudulent invasions. While most of these interactions are criminal and can be prosecuted if the authorities have evidence. The only way that happens if you and I report these attacks.
The simplest reaction you can do [before you delete the monster] is to forward it to SPAM [7726]

Responding to a text like this can open all sorts of vulnerabilities.

Block them in the first place!

How to do this [block malevolent texts and calls] starts to get very platform and carrier specific. All platforms allow you to Block a number. Unfortunately these attacks use rolling numbers so often come in over many different numbers.
Apple’s iOS has a control under Settings:Phone:Silence Unknown Callers that can be turned on for phone calls. The control for texts is under Settings:Messages:Filter Unknown Senders.
This is the page to learn how to block calls and messages on Apple Devices
Google has this guidance for dealing with unwanted messages.

Report them to the Government!

The F.T.C. has page dedicated for reporting any kind of fraud. I know how easy it is to write it off. We tell ourselves, “no one will do anything anyway.” And while that might be true, there’s also the personal toll that comes with knowing that you didn’t do anything, either.

Report Fraud to the F.T.C. Here

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