THREAT REMOVAL

Remove Smishing Scam Landing Pages — How to Protect Yourself

This article has been created in order to explain to you what is the Smishing Scam Landing Pages and how you can remove them as well as all potentially unwanted programs delivered through them.

The Smishing Scam Landing Pages is a popular tactic that attempts to manipulate users into accesing hacker-created pages that can steal their money or infect them with viruses. Our article gives an in-depth explanation of how it propagates and how victims protect themselves.

Threat Summary

Name Smishing Scam Landing Pages
Type Phishing SMS scams
Short Description The Smishing Scam Landing Pages is a popular tactic that coerces the users into interacting with a scam site.
Symptoms Victims will receive SMS messages that contain the phishing instructions.
Distribution Method SMS messages.

Smishing Scam Landing Pages – Distribution Ways

The Smishing phishing scams are becoming more and more popular as most of them rely on the fact that SMS messages are widely used by Internet services for notifications or two-factor authentication. They are notoriously easy to organize as they do not depend on interaction with a certain web site, application or service. The single requirement is that the hacker operators behind it access phone databases in order to build a list of target phone numbers.

The actual delivery of the messages is automated and done through virtual phone SMS sending service that hides the identity of the senders. By customizing them instead of a phone number the receiving users might see letters of companies or services that they use.

An alternative variant is where the hacker operators use a two-step phone number gathering page. Various forms can be spread using the most popular tactics used by other common phishing scams:

  • Email Messages — Scam messages posing as being sent by companies or services that the users might use may request that the recipients provide their phone number for a profile update or another common reason. When this is done this the harvested information will be used to perform the smishing tactic.
  • Malicious Application Installers — The hackers can manipulate legitimate setup files with a phone number field that is displayed during the installation process or after it. The usual targets are applications that are popularly downloaded by end users such as productivity apps, creativity suites, system utilities and etc.
  • Online Communities — The criminals can use either fake accounts created for this purpose or hack those with weak security in order to fool users into disclosing their phone number. This may be done via forum posts, direct messages, photo posts and other content posted on social networks and online communities.
  • Data Theft and Abuse — Many of the user phone number data is acquired through purchases made on the underground markets.
  • Browser Hijackers — Installed malicious browser plugins can harvest the data from the infected hosts or present pop-up windows and notification boxes requesting the phone number. Such attempts can be masked as verification of the installed extension or requirement in order for the redirects to be “active”.

Smishing Scam Landing Pages – In-Depth Overview

The actual smishing scam landing pages will usually present fake login prompts that will attempt to steal the credentials for the shown service. Popular examples include the following cases:

  • Account Closure Notification — The received SMS will notify the recipient that their accounts for a service that they use is about to be closed. They will be redirected to a landing page requesting the quoted username/email and password information.
  • Gift Card Claim — The received smishing scam messages will notify the recipients that they have won a gift card of significant value due to a purchase that they did. In order to redeem and receive the gift card they are given a code to enter on the landing page. When it is accessed and the code is entered a user registration form will be presented. It will be used to hijack the entered information — sensitive information is requested which can then be used for identity theft and other types of abuse.
  • Banking Activity Notification — The users will receive SMS messages that warn of “detected unusual activity” wherein the users are shown a web address where they can “review” the suspicious data. The redirect page will show a a fake copy of the quoted bank’s login page. If any entered credentials are submitted they will be instantly transferred to the hacker operators.
  • Image Access — A shortened URL to a photo will be sent to the victims. This might provoke the curiosity of the recipients and they will open it up. In most cases this will lead to a virus infection.
  • Tax Refund Request — A SMS message pretending to be from the IRS or another government agency can be sent to the users. It is usually related to tax information and will include a link to a fake gateway page. When it is clicked on it will request a lot of information about the user’s financial status. The collected data can then be used for serious financial abuse.
Related: [wplinkpreview url=”https://sensorstechforum.com/vishing-smishing-and-phishing-scams-are-after-your-information-and-money/”]Vishing, Smishing, and Phishing Scams Are After Your Information and Money

What’s more dangerous is that the hackers can make use of behavior that is already traditional among people around the world. This is evident when donation scheme phishing attacks are carried. The criminals can send out messages that are disguised as legitimate pleas for help. The messages contains instructions that coerce them into replying with a certain command in order to initiate the donation. If this is done then a large tax will be placed upon the victims and the money will directly go into the accounts of the phishing operators. They are very successful especially when organized during actual charity events — special events or holidays where the media also raise attention to such issues.

The smishing campaigns in many cases are coupled with the sending of messages from premium phone numbers. This means that phone charges will incur if the victims interact with them .

Another popular scenario is when the criminals behind the phishing attacks use the account confirmation scenario. This is done when user accounts are linked to the person’s phone number and that information is crawled by the criminals — either by manual research or by using automatic means. This helps them into constructing believable notifications that can result in a high chance of gaining whole databases of account username, email and password credentials. Some of the attack scenarios can include a spoofed Google Docs links page which is a convenient way to distribute the [wplinkpreview url=”https://sensorstechforum.com/remove-google-docs-phishing-scam-protect/”]popular Google Docs phishing scam.

The other dangerous instance is when the SMS message coerces the users into opening a link on their computers. This will usually lead to infections with dangerous malware of all popular types:

  • Screen Locker — This mobile malware will lock the device’s lockscreen, display intrusive SPAM messages and simultaneously deploy other threats. Having one installed additionally diminishes heavily the performance of the devices and is often coupled with cryptocurrency miners.
  • Trojans — These are among the most dangerous malware threats that can be used against computer users. Their main goal is to install a client service onto the hosts that establishes a secure connection to a preset hacker-controlled server. It is used to allow the operators to spy on the users, hijack their data and take over control of the systems at any given time.
  • Cryptocurrency Miners — These infections are very popular lately as they can be caused by either a simple JavaScript code or a stand-alone program delivered to the computer. In either case when it is launched resource-intensive tasks will be launched that will take advantage of the available hardware. When one of them is complete upon reporting it the operators will receive compensation in the form of cryptocurrency directly transferred to their digital wallets.
  • Browser Hijackers — The victim users may be coerced into installing a special browser plugin (extension) which is usually malicious in nature. When it is installed the default configuration is to modify the web browser settings into redirecting the users to a specific hacker-controlled page.

As such most of the effects of Smishing scam landing pages can lead to dangerous infections. In such cases the use of a quality anti-spyware solution will help remove active infections from the affected computers.

Remove Smishing Scam Landing Pages from Your Android Device

The Smishing Scam Landing Pages may infect your Android phone or tablet. Depending on their exact configuration in many cases restore may be difficult for users to do using the ordinary system tools. If some of the system services are blocked then the only method for effective removal would be to use an advanced security solution. Such program are created to fully scan your devices and try to eliminate any traces of unwanted programs and protect them against future infections as well.

Since manually removing malicious content may erase your data, we have suggested several methods to do it effectively and safely in case you have an Android device in the step-by-step instructions below. If you want to skip these steps and remove the objects automatically, we suggest that you download an advanced privacy protective app designed to to block any future intrusions.

Download Mobile

Mobile Detection Tool

1. Back up the data on your device

Back up the data on your phone

CAUTION! Before attempting any removals and drive formatting on your device, you should know that it is essential to save all your important contacts and files from your phone. There are several methods to backup your files:

Method I: Using online backup software or a memory card if the device supports it.

Method II: Connecting to another device and copying the data directly.

This is a bit risky option since the device may have malware on it. This is why, first you need to enter the device’s Safe Mode:

For RAZR Droid Devices:

1.Switch off the smartphone and remove the battery for a few seconds then plug it back in.

2.Switch the phone on.

3.You should see a Motorola Dual Core screen appearing. You should press and hold the Volume up, and Volume Down keys on the side of the smartphone. Hold them until the lock screen shows up with ‘Safe Mode’ written in the lower corner.

For HTC Devices:

1.Switch off the smartphone and remove the battery for a few seconds then plug it back in.

2.Turn on your phone while simultaneously holding down the Menu Button. When it starts, keep pressing the Menu Button until you see ‘Safe Mode’ menu appearing in the lower corner.

For Nexus devices:

1.Switch off the smartphone and remove the battery for a few seconds then plug it back in.
2.Turn on the phone.
3.When the welcome Logo Screen shows up, hold the trackball while pressing it until a lock screen shows up, or you see ‘Safe Mode’ written in the bottom corner.

For Other Motorola Devices:

1.Switch off the smartphone and remove the battery for a few seconds then plug it back in.
2.Hold down the Menu Button after you press it while turning on the phone. When it boots, hold the button down upon seeing the lock screen or feeling the phone vibrate.

For Moto G Devices:
1.Press the Power Button and hold it on until the list with options pop-up.
2.Hold the Power off button and wait for a ‘Reboot to Safe Mode’ option to appear.
3.Tap it and let the phone reset.

For Samsung Galaxy Devices:

1.While the device is on, hold down the Power Button and wait for the Options List.
2.Wait for a ‘Restart to Safe Mode’ option to appear.
3.Choose this setting. The device will restart.

For Apple Devices:

1. While your device is locked, hold down the Power Button and the Home Button until you see a white Apple logo.
2. Once you see the logo, let go from those buttons and start holding the Volume Up button. (Give it a little time to boot up)
3. Now the phone should boot in Safe Mode without any third-parties running.

And now it is time to proceed by doing the actual backup:

Android

1. Connect your device via USB to a computer and select Use as a Media Device. You may also see use as file transfer option.
2. Go to your phone from My Computer and copy all the files you need.
3. If the phone has an option to install its drivers onto your computer, select it and install them since this will simplify the process of copying your contact list on your computer.

2. Hard-reset your device and remove Smishing Scam Landing Pages

Hard-Reset Your Smartphone

For Android Devices:

After you have backed up your files, you should perform a clean wipe-out of your phone. This can happen either via one of the options in Safe Mode or by entering your device’s Recovery Mode. Several methods exist in order to enter Recovery Mode of your device:

reboot-system

For Nexus Devices: – Hold the Volume Down + Volume Up + Power button until a Recovery menu appears. After that, you should select the Wipe Data/Factory reset option. Nexus 4 may work with Volume Up + Power + Volume Down.

For Samsung Devices: – Hold the Volume Up + Power Button + Home Button until a Recovery menu appears. After that, you should select the Wipe Data/Factory reset option.

For Motorola Droid X Devices: Hold the Home Button + Power Button until a Recovery menu appears. After that, you should select the Wipe Data/Factory reset setting.

For other devices with camera buttons on them: Hold the Volume Up + Camera Button until a Recovery Menu appears. After this, you should choose the Wipe Data/Factory reset option.

Also in case you have backed up your device in a Google Account, you will be able to restore your data after a complete wipe-out by just logging into your Google Account with you email and password.

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Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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