Phishing: You should be careful with such SMSes

As we read on the official government website: “The cybersecurity incident response team registered 6,484 incidents in 2019, 4,100 of which were fraudulent attacks.” During the pandemic, the number of online crimes and extortions increased.

Phishing attacks are increasingly used to fraud in cyberspace. This is one of the most popular methods of sending e-mails or, increasingly, SMS messages to potential victims.

Criminals pretend to be a specific institution or company in order to steal confidential information or infect your computer with malware. Messages usually contain a link. The content is formulated to trick victims into a certain action: clicking and paying or providing certain information.

Who are the cybercriminals most often pretended to be? There are many possibilities, but in recent months, Poles have been particularly exposed to attacks by fraudsters who pretend to be: courier companies, administration offices, electricity suppliers and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate. What are the messages that need special attention?

For several months, there has been a lot of talk about fake SMS messages in which senders, claiming to be an electricity supplier, remind them of the need to settle the debt. They are threatening that if the fee is not paid, the electricity supply will be stopped immediately. Fraudsters use several numbers, which makes immediate identification difficult. The most common of them, however, are: +48 502 947 217 and +48 572 994 059. This is a classic example of phishing reported in the media.

The content of SMS fraudsters is usually very similar. They may differ by the deadline by which the payment is allegedly due. This one is usually very short. This is to make the recipient react immediately.

Fraudsters carefully prepare the websites to which they transfer links from SMS messages. So at first glance, they do not raise any suspicions. However, it is enough to look at the website address. It is he who should arouse our vigilance. Fraudsters most often use website addresses similar to the official ones. Usually, however, they are much longer. When receiving similar messages, it is worth checking what the website address of the company or institution referred to by the sender should be.

In SMS messages, cyber criminals often use so-called tiny-URLs, i.e. shortened URLs of websites.

The Chief Sanitary Inspector, via the website and social media, in September warned against false text messages from the sender Quarantine. GIS urged not to open a link containing suspicious messages.

Along with the increase in the daily number of infections, the Sanitary Inspection contacts Poles more and more often. The GIS informs about the quarantine by calling the official number 22 25 71 145. She did not send SMS messages, let alone ask for data, directing to suspicious sites. Therefore, similar content should arouse our vigilance.

The pandemic caused cybercriminals to look for new methods of extorting and stealing confidential data. Unfortunately, many people, seeing the sender in Quarantine, instinctively follow the link that allegedly has more information. This can end tragically: identity theft, account wiping.

Fraudsters who claim to be courier companies in SMS are not new. Cybercriminals usually follow a proven pattern of action. They send messages to victims informing them that the package is already waiting for them at the selected pickup location.

The condition for release is, however, an additional payment via a fabricated website. The purpose of fraudsters is to “infect” the victim’s device with malware, which allows even complete takeover of the computer or phone.

If you haven’t ordered anything online recently, the best solution is to just ignore the message. If we are really waiting for the parcel and the text of the SMS seems suspicious to us, you should immediately contact the carrier, i.e. the courier company, and ask for additional information.

The simplest, but also the most effective defense against phishing is a thorough analysis of the messages we receive. Until we are absolutely sure that the sender really is who he claims to be, we should not open links or reply to text messages. In this case, curiosity is a bad adviser.

If you are suspicious of an SMS, it is a good idea to report it using the official website of the CERT Computer Incident Response Team. In this way, we prevent the further spread of fake news. The sooner the procedure is detected, the better.

People who have fallen victim to online scams, including phishing scams, should contact the police or the prosecutor’s office immediately.

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About Alex Marcell

He likes dogs, pizza and popcorn. Already a fanboy of Nintendo and Sony, but today throws anything. He has collaborated on sites and magazines such as GameBlast, Nintendo World, Hero and Portal Pop, but today is dedicated exclusively to Spark Chronicles.

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