For all the progress technology has made over the last several years, there are still frustrating and infuriating problems associated with things as simple as mobile phones and landlines. Robocalls and smishing attacks are still one of the most annoying and potentially dangerous problems associated with phone usage today, and although laws have been passed by congress in an attempt to curb these calls, there are actions you can take to personally protect yourself and your business.
Smishing follows the same structure of how spam emails work, but with text messaging. Knowing that more people read and respond to text messages, smishing attacks are highly successful in fooling people into thinking they’re legitimate. Most messages will appear to be contests, package delivery notices, bank messages, and many other common communications.
Both iPhones and Androids have built-in protections to block unknown numbers or numbers which look like spam to the AI. For example, the Google Messages app will immediately hide and block messages that are known to be malicious. You can also report messages that are flagged as suspect. There are also several third-party companies which develop software to further help you rid yourself of spam phone calls.
Many service providers have tools and software to help block calls and protect customers from dealing with smishing attacks. AT&T, for example, has come up with AT&T Secure Family, an app for iOS and Android which prevents fraud and spam and is available to those who subscribe to AT&T Mobility subscribers. Verizon has a version of this of their own called Verizon Call Filter which comes free for their customers.
This software detects and filters out spam SMS and fraudulent calls and alerts you to any calls which are most likely spam. Finally, T-Mobile came up with ScamShield, a free app designed to block incoming spam calls. You must be a postpaid T-Mobile and Metro customer to access this software, however. These apps are all great for ridding yourself of spam calls and smishing messages, but come with the condition that you must be a customer of these service providers.
Nomorobo is a great third-party app which curbs robo and spam calls. The app does this by scanning a blacklist of phone numbers and comparing it to the number which is calling you. After the scan, the app will either block the call entirely or identify it as spam and allow it through, marked as such. The app actually protects against spam text messaging (smishing) too and can also act as an ad blocker for your web browser.
The service is affordable, costing only $1.99 per month for the duration of the subscription, though the company also has a free trial available if you aren’t sure about the validity of their service. A free version also exists for VoIP landlines which can block calls on your home phone.
Hiya: Spam Phone Call Blocker
Another great third-party application is Hiya: Spam Phone Call Blocker. This nifty app warns you of any spam or robocalls and links to a database of known scammers to make such assessments. This app is great for blocking calls from spammers, especially those looking to defraud you and those associated with illegal activities. Telemarketers are also often blocked when the app is active, so spam calls of all kinds are taken into account.
In addition, the app is great at identifying “spoofed” numbers, or numbers which use the first three digits as your own number. Hiya even allows you to type a number into the app and learn its origin or source, which can help you know where the number is coming from. There’s a basic version of the app, which is free, and a premium edition which costs $3.99 per month or $24.99 per year.
An app whose name is totally apropos, RoboKiller will both block spam calls and actually screw with the spammers to a small extent. The app comes with “Answer Bots,” programs designed to automatically answer the call, while blocking it, and spew prerecorded gibberish which frustrates scammers and waste their time. You can even create your own bot response easily and efficiently.
RoboKiller’s database of known spammers is expansive and validated, so you can trust that calls which are blocked are truly worthless. You can even add specific numbers that you want blocked. The app is $2.99 per month or $24.99 per year for Android and $3.99 or $29.99 per year for iOS devices. It also comes with a one-year free trial.
Until the cellular infrastructure figures out a way to curb attackers from using smishing, mitigation and education will be needed. We at BCC are avid promoters of end-user security training. We encourage you to think about the wasted time and impact that potential data leakage smishing attacks could have on your business. If you have questions or need help, contact us today for a free consultation.