SMiShing (SMS phishing)

SMiShing is a mobile phone security attack in which the user is tricked into downloading a Trojan horse, virus or other malware onto his phone. SMiShing is short for "SMS phishing." (Continued)

SMiShing is a security attack in which the user is tricked into downloading a Trojan horse, virus or other malware onto his cellular phone or other mobile device. SMiShing is short for "SMS phishing."

David Rayhawk, senior researcher at McAfee Avert Labs, explains how SMiShing works in a blog post entitled 'SMiShing - an emerging threat vector:'
"Some cell phone users have started receiving SMS messages along these lines: 'We're confirming you've signed up for our dating service. You will be charged $2/day unless you cancel your order: www.smishinglink.com.' (This is an example and was not a real url at the time of writing)This phenomena, which we at McAfee Avert Labs are dubbing "SMiShing" (phishing via SMS), is yet another indicator that cell phones and mobile devices are becoming increasingly used by perpetrators of malware, viruses and scams.

While some might recognize this as a scam, many unsuspecting users would not. Fearful of incurring premium rates on their cell phone bill, they visit the Web site highlighted in the message. Once they arrive at the URL, they are prompted to download a program which is actually a Trojan horse that turns the computer into a zombie, allowing it to be controlled by hackers. The computer then becomes part of a bot network, which can then be used to launch denial of service best practices for mobile device security management should include:

  • Policies that help to address phishing.
  • Security software to address viruses and other malware.
  • A way to use over-the-air updates to re-image devices and recover data.

Users are advised to be as vigilant about security for their mobile devices as they are for desktop computers.

This was first published in January 2007

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