Malicious links or attachments
🔺 How it works: The text message contains a link or attachment that, when clicked or downloaded, installs malware on the user’s device.
⚠️ Risk: Once installed, this malware can steal sensitive information, monitor user activity, or provide backdoor access to the device.
So, to avoid falling victim, don’t open texts with file attachments, especially from unknown or spam numbers.
A zero-click exploit
🔺How it works: Attackers send specially crafted text messages containing malicious code that exploit vulnerabilities in the messaging app or the device’s operating system.
⚠️Risk: These messages can allow attackers to crash the device or gain unauthorized access without any action from the user. While most require you to click on a link, some exploits are even zero-click, meaning the user doesn’t need to interact with the message for the hacker to access the device.
Messaging apps are often targeted because they receive large amounts of data from unknown sources without requiring action from the target phone. It’s important to note that zero-click hacking is extremely rare and the technology behind these attacks is usually only available to governments.
Identifying Spam Messages
Fraudsters send billions of unsolicited messages each month, hoping that a small percentage of people will respond. And their scams are getting harder and harder to spot.
Now that you understand how you can get hacked by replying (or not!) to a spam text message, here are a few ways to spot suspicious messages:
❗ Unknown sender: If the message is from an unknown number or a short code you don’t recognize, it could be a sign of spam. Be especially cautious if the message urges immediate action or tries to instill a sense of urgency.
❗ Suspicious links: Be wary of any unexpected links in messages. Don’t follow them. Spammers often use shortened URLs to hide the final destination.
❗ Offers that seem too good to be true: If you receive unsolicited offers that seem too good to be true (e.g., winning a lottery you didn’t enter, huge discounts), it’s likely spam.
❗ Requests for personal information: Legitimate organizations usually don’t ask for sensitive information (like passwords, Social Security numbers, or bank account details) via text message. Be suspicious of any message that does.
❗ Grammar and spelling mistakes: Many spam texts, especially those from international sources, contain glaring spelling and grammatical errors.
❗ Instructions to text ‘STOP’ or ‘NO’: While legitimate companies often offer an opt-out option, some spammers use this as a trick to confirm that your number is active.
❗ Random codes: If you didn’t request a code (e.g., for two-factor authentication or a password reset) but received one, someone might be trying to access one of your accounts. Instead of using the code, go directly to the service’s official website or app to check on your account.
How to Protect Your Device From Text Hacking