In the past few days, hundreds of thousands of Israelis received messages purporting to be from well-known brands such as Shufersal supermarket chain, McDonald’s, or Cellcom telecommunications, which were actually sent by hackers hoping to steal credit card information from unsuspecting users, Hebrew media reported on Sunday.
The messages offered coupons, free meals, or instructed users to update their online information. But once users clicked on the link they were snared by the hackers’ “phishing” for information.
“The hackers can send hundreds of thousands, even millions of messages,” an expert told Hadashot news. “Even if 99 percent of the people ignore the message, they still gain access to details from thousands of people.”
Hackers can easily send messages that appear to be from an authentic source, with identity information and credit card details sent straight back to the criminals. Often the links ask users to install software which then takes over the phone and can even be used to spy on the user through the device’s camera.
Official guidelines warned users to always be suspicious. Users should never download applications that are not from a secure source through the Apple or Android stores. They should never give out credit card information and always check that the website from the link is the authentic website of the company. If in doubt, users are advised to always check with the company that the message appears to come from — either via its website or by phone.