Given its speed and convenience, more businesses are turning to SMS to streamline communication with customers, leads, and employees. But are text messages secure? With the increasing prevalence of cyber threats, it is crucial to ensure the security of your text messages, especially when sensitive information is being shared.
In this article, we will explore the security risks associated with texting and provide actionable tips for businesses to reinforce their text message security.
Are text messages secure?
Standard SMS text messages are inherently insecure once they reach the recipient's hands. That’s because anyone can read a person’s received texts, and it’s possible to intercept messages when data is not end-to-end encrypted.
However, text messaging can be secure using the right application-to-person SMS platform. Secure messaging apps, like an SMS platform, help businesses protect data at rest and in transit as the message travels to a phone number.
To select a secure messaging app, look for some of these features:
- End-to-end encryption
- Employee access controls
- Multi-factor authentication
- Continuous security monitoring
- Secure cloud infrastructure and storage
Importance of security in text messaging for business
The importance of text message security cannot be overstated for businesses. Text messaging has become a primary communication tool for many organizations, but it also poses significant security risks. By prioritizing text message security and implementing best practices, businesses can:
- Keep client and business-sensitive information safe
- Establish and maintain customer trust in your business
- Avoid legal repercussions or monetary fines
- Prevent disruption of services
- Provide peace of mind to business stakeholders and customers
Common text messaging security risks
By understanding these risks, businesses can take proactive measures to protect their sensitive information and ensure the security of their text messages. So here are some of the most common security risks associated with texting:
In this type of attack, an attacker intercepts the communication and can read the conversation or even modify the messages being sent. This can occur if the communication is not encrypted, or if an attacker gains access to a vulnerable Wi-Fi network.
Text messages may contain sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card details, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. If an attacker gains access to a user's device, they can intercept and read the text messages, compromising the information contained within them.
This can occur when employees use personal devices for work purposes, or when they share sensitive information via text without adequate safeguards in place. Employees may accidentally forward messages containing sensitive information to unintended recipients or leave their devices unsecured, making them vulnerable to theft or unauthorized access.
SMS phishing, often called smishing, is a form of social engineering in which the bad actor tries to lure mobile phone users into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or login credentials.
Read more: How to identify a fake text message
Malicious software, such as spyware or viruses, can be installed on a user's device via a text message attachment or link. Once installed, the malware can access sensitive information or even take control of the device.
9 tips for secure text messaging in business
Enforce secure text messaging in your business with these tips:
Use end-to-end encryption
Find a secure SMS platform with end-to-end encryption to protect users' data. This ensures third parties can’t intercept and read your messages. Instead, only you and the intended recipient can see it.
While looking at encryption protocols to select a secure chat app, ensure the SMS platform also encrypts photos and videos.
Use multi-factor authentication
Make sure only authorized parties can access your text messages by using a platform that has multi-factor authentication. This secures your SMS platform so bad actors can’t access it to find customer data, discover business data, or send improper texts.
Limit sharing of sensitive information
Once a text is in a customer’s hands, it is no longer protected, no matter what tools you use. As a result, limit the sharing of sensitive information via text. Only share the minimum needed to finish the task at hand.
Ensure data is safely stored
Establish clear policies for how text messages containing sensitive information should be stored and deleted. This may include automated deletion of messages after a set period or the use of secure cloud storage solutions that encrypt data and protect against unauthorized access.
Train your employees
Even unintentionally accessing protected data is considered a breach. As a result, train your staff about your security procedures and what to do in the event of a breach.
Set up access controls
A secure text messaging service will offer controls like roles and permissions to help manage customer data access. This will ensure that only authorized employees will have access to particular data.
Ward off potential threats
There are several ways to ward off security threats. Some ideas include:
- Conduct background checks on employees
- Enforce security policies such as mandating MFA
- Keep your computer and software up-to-date
- Put a killswitch in place so you can delete data in the event of a security incident
Continuously monitor for security risks
Pick a platform that continuously monitors its traffic for security events. This will help protect your business.
Don’t use a personal device
Using a secure SMS platform will provide greater security than using a native texting application built into Android and iOS devices.
Stay compliant with regulations
SMS security and SMS compliance are different. But, following SMS compliance standards help you conduct more secure text messaging. One major industry regulation you’ll want to follow is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This requires you to collect customer consent before sending a text message and allow them to opt out anytime.
Additionally, pay attention to industry-specific regulations as well. This includes HIPAA for healthcare businesses, which protects sensitive patient data, and SOC-2 for businesses handling financial and other protected data.
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