How To Send Secure Links in SMS: Quick Guide to Anti-Phishing Message Authentication

Team MessageFlow
10 min
SMS
May 6, 2024

Messages sent by scammers often contain harmful links to webpages that have been developed to closely resemble the original. When a potential victim of a phishing attack clicks the link in a text message, they may be redirected to a website containing malicious software. Any information then provided by the user is captured by the fraudsters with the intention of illicit use.

The impostors are often clever and creative in their ways but the senders of business communication are by no means defenseless. You can take a number of essential steps to significantly improve the security of your texting campaigns and include links people will feel safe to click.

Business is built on trust

Since customers across the board, although not being perfectly immune to them, are largely aware of such crooked activities, it’s essential to take steps towards winning their trust in advance by sticking to a number of good practices when launching your SMS campaigns.

In recent years, the number of various phishing attacks has remained consistently high. Therefore, there’s a clear need to counteract the scammers’ operations on the senders’ end. 

phishing attacks statistics

Source: Statista

Otherwise, your business risks appearing not trustworthy enough, which can have further negative consequences of diminished engagement leading to lower SMS link click-through rate and conversion.

How to protect your brand and customers from text message phishing?

Now, there are two sides to this phishing coin. One is your business and everything it does to make sure its messaging efforts are secure. The other is the customer, the receiving party, who could perhaps use a little education and reassurance in order to have no doubts about engaging with the texts they receive from you.

Let’s start our discussion of the measures protecting against SMS phishing, SMS spoofing, and spam with this most recent point.

Educate customers about links in text messages

If SMS containing links prompting the customer to take action are a vital part of your business communication operations, consider implementing a concise educational campaign aimed at helping your audience understand what they should pay attention to when interacting with link-containing texts.

💡 This may seem like some extra, unnecessary effort but in fact you’re doing it not only for the people but also in your own business interest. You want as many people as possible to feel comfortable interacting with your messages and clicking the included links. 

That said, the goal here is to make it clear how your organization is going about ensuring messaging safety. Such information can be made a part of your terms and conditions or published in a dedicated section on the company's website. 

Use an authorized sender name in your SMS marketing

Familiarity improves the oh so crucial trust so if you communicate with your customers on the regular, make sure you consistently use the same, authorized sender name for your SMS text messages.

💡 In technical terms, this means confirming your brand name with the SMS platform provider which will then be referred to as your SenderID. It will preface all your outgoing texts, sitting atop of the content. 

This way you create a situation where you’ve been officially confirmed by an authoritative third party and are always displaying your brand name to customers, which they are accustomed to. Any deviation from it should instantly raise their suspicion and prevent them from engaging with any potentially malicious links included within, mitigating the risks.

Avoid public URL shorteners for SMS links

You may be tempted to go the easy route and get bit.ly or another URL shortener to clip your clickable link so that it fits into an SMS along with the rest of your message. This, however, may come back to bite you.

💡 Phishing cybercriminals are well aware of publicly available link shorteners and often exploit them to disguise their malicious URLs.

With no identifiable branding to them, these links can serve as wide open gateways to whatever scheme is waiting on the other end. Upon seeing such a random link, customers may be hesitant to click it and rightfully so. The significant popularity of these services does in no way translate to increased security. Follow the link for more detailed discussion on short links in SMS.

Use trusted SMS software providers

Expert business messaging software providers will offer you the option to both set a custom, trusted sender name and shorten links securely.  

💡 To improve the efficiency of your communication even further, you may want to use branded links in your SMS messages. 

If you decide to go for it, you can securely shorten any link to just 17 characters to look something like this: 

sms.sinsay.com/123456  

Summary of the best practices for including hyperlinks in SMS

Secure links are a fundamental element of properly run texting campaigns. Since they can become a scammer's tool in a phishing attack, you should take a number of preventive steps, good SMS practices if you will, laid out in this article to ensure your brand's reputation nor your customers suffer from an attempted scam. 

🧑‍🎓 It all starts with education - the more aware the message recipient is of what to pay attention to, the less susceptible they are to digital attacks like phishing.

🛡️ Then, it's also crucial to work with a trusted partner in the scope of your campaign delivery, who can provide the tools necessary to safeguard your texts and the links they contain.

MessageFlow makes secure SMS links easy

At MessageFlow, we keep highlighting the security measures we have in place at every step. 

All outgoing links our customers include in their SMS texts undergo URL verification and are protected by the anti-phishing shield. URLs that raise reasonable suspicions are not being sent for the safety of everyone involved. 

On top of these essential measures, we also offer senders the opportunity to verify their name. In other words, they can set up their custom sender ID which makes use of the recipients' familiarity with the brand and builds trust in the received communication clearly displaying the confirmed company name instead of just a phone number.

sms sender id and branded link

You can also get a shortened URL directly in the panel, using our proprietary, secure SMS service. Feel free to take advantage of the standard feature or inquire about making the URL contain your brand name to remove any hesitation a customer may have about clicking the link. 

Our organization is also involved in the broader fight against phishing via SMS through the development of a proprietary communication security system, including the 360 shield, which filters content and links being sent, as well as delivers alerts about attempts to impersonate your brand.

We're actively involved in this area, working with CERT, Google, NASK, mobile carriers, and antivirus platforms. In the course of our daily operations, we intercept thousands of messages trying to deceive and mislead their recipients. We also promptly inform customers about any detected threats so they can take action on their end in a timely manner.

Sign up for a MessageFlow account and start securing your SMS campaigns today, safeguarding your brand's integrity and your customers' trust.

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