A massive wave of SMS attacks is taking place in Switzerland

This is unprecedented, on this scale, in Switzerland. In recent days, millions of text messages containing dangerous links have been received. Written in German, these messages have only one purpose: to infect the recipient’s phone, before remotely controlling it and stealing passwords. Therefore, it is important not to be too curious and click on the links contained in the messages.

These text messages are relatively easy to identify, especially for non-German speakers, as they all appear to be written in German. They entice the recipient to click on a link. Some suggest that the potential victim click on it to read an MMS, others suggest listening to an audio message, and still others, not without irony, encourage the recipient to click to stop receiving a message.

All links displayed are different. And the messages received were all sent from Swiss phone numbers, with only one sent from Austria. A reader informs us that such messages also reach the Signal app when it is used to send and receive SMS.

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Beware on Android

Do not click on the links, as they can all infect your cell phone, especially if you have a smartphone running Android, Google’s system. If the victim makes the mistake of clicking, it is likely that an application will be installed on the laptop via an alternative application store: this is malicious software (malware) that will suck up usernames and passwords from the phone, in addition to of bank details. The malware will also use the victim’s address book to send SMS to replicate itself. Please note that by default an Android phone does not allow you to download apps outside of the official Play Store. But hackers trick their victims into allowing their phone to download apps from other sources.

As for iPhone owners, if they mistakenly or inadvertently click on the link, they will not trigger the installation of the malware, but instead will be directed to a webpage where they will be asked to provide usernames and passwords. In particular, hackers are trying to control Google accounts.

First attacks in June

This wave of SMS scams has unprecedented virulence in Switzerland. But this is not the first time. In June of this year, the malware dubbed Flubot had already plagued in the same way, but without hitting as many phones. The hackers who developed this software apparently made it more sophisticated. The malware is also active in many other countries, sometimes even encouraging the potential victim to download an app to protect themselves from cyberattacks… Since June, several cantonal police have issued alerts on the matter, as has the Switch foundation, owned the Confederation, which notably administers “.ch” domain names.

How to protect yourself against such attacks? Obviously, you should not click on the links and delete suspicious SMS. On Android, you can configure your phone so that it is impossible to use other app stores than the official Google store (the Play Store).

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precautionary measures

It is also possible to block receiving SMS from specific numbers, but this is not very useful: hackers send part of your messages from single-use numbers. On Android (and not possible on iPhone), it is possible to report an SMS as ‘spam’, which should allow telecom operators to disable sent links.

But, as during the first wave of SMS, at least in June, operators do not seem able to stem this wave of dangerous messages. Contacted, Sunrise UPC states “filter these messages as much as possible on the mobile network, in coordination with Swisscom so that propagation is limited. We routinely report all cases reported to us to the responsible body, the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC). And we recommend that affected customers do the same. We also recommend that all customers who receive these messages ignore or delete them.”

The NCSC gave this advice in June: “Never install a program from a website you arrived via a link received by SMS or email. Install only necessary programs and apps and always download them from the producer’s website or an official download platform.

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