QR (Quick Response) Codes are a reservoir of a type of information in the form of a barcode. The information can be extracted by using a digital device. Currently, most of the devices are inbuilt with cameras that can scan these QR codes. To understand it in a better way, let us take an example of the usage of QR codes in hotels. Some of the hotels do not carry a menu nowadays. For their menu, they develop a QR code that contains the information regarding their menu. QR codes can also be used to perform online transactions here.
QR codes are important because they allow a convenient route using which a customer and business can communicate. If used efficiently and safely, QR codes are safe to use. The exchange of information is aided by QR codes. It has made collecting information about products or businesses easier and faster. Along with being fast, QR codes are less likely to cause errors. QR codes can also improve your audience engagement. Most of the ways of sharing information are limited. This limitation can be overcome by the use of QR codes as it has the capacity to store more information comparatively.
QR codes no doubt offer a number of benefits, but there are some serious troubles linked with the scanning of QR codes. Cybercriminals can take advantage of QR codes and misuse sensitive information or damage that information. Your security can be a threat if you are not careful while scanning a QR code. Let us talk about eight things you must consider before scanning your next QR code.
1. Malware attacks by means of QR codes
Malware attacks are any form of software meant to destroy or get data from systems. QR codes can be easily used for this purpose. Scanning of QR codes may allow the download of software (known as Trojan). These malicious programs can reveal the information from the systems to the servers of cyber criminals. Malware can be misused in a variety of ways. The installed trojans via scanning of the QR codes can allow more malware to enter your system. Your information can also be stolen without your knowledge. Lastly, malware can also damage or destroy the information stored in the systems.
2. Financial Theft
A lot of places, like restaurants, have now enabled payment based on QR codes. One very important thing to consider while making any transaction is that QR codes do not allow receiving of money. If you encounter such a situation, you surely are being frauded. Another technique used by fraudsters is creating a similar copy of QR codes and replacing them with authentic ones. Not only the QR code is copied, but the whole payment process can also be cloned and faked. So if you are paying a bill or transferring money, be vigilant that the right person gets the payment.
3. Scanning codes from reliable sources only
It is not easy to tell if the QR code in front of you is authentic or not. But you can always look out for red flags for any QR code. If you receive any QR code from any web source like a social media post, email, or text, scan the QR code only if you are sure about the sources of it. Generating a QR code is not a task that requires expertise. If you notice any QR code in the form of a sticker rather than a part of any poster, be cautious about scanning it. Be aware of opening QR codes from intriguing offers, lottery, or email spam.
4. Clickjacking on authentic QR codes
We discussed how QR codes are safe to use if you know the source is a reliable one. What if a cybercriminal can successfully add a QR code to an authentic source itself? This practice refers to clickjacking. Because the source QR code is reliable from the source, the audience, without any doubt, will scan the available QR code. The websites that look legitimate are more likely to be clickjacked.
5. Are you regularly updating the security of your device?
QR codes can be used to perform illegal activities like invading your personal information or gaining access to your device. You can protect your system from malicious activities that happen in the virtual world by installing some effective protection software. Once you have installed them, it is equally necessary that you update them in the required time intervals. Installation of third-party security tools will let you avoid any compromise with the security of your system. These security software tools will recognize any unauthorized activity taking place in your systems. To attain security, you can scan the QR with the help of safety scanners that adds a safety check of links.
6. QR codes: A threat to your security and privacy?
QR codes cause no threat to privacy. But links they open might be the cause you should be cautious if you are concerned about your privacy. The links might share the information and share it with other resources. In some cases, by scanning a QR code, your information like location, can also be saved. The stored information can be shared with third-party users. QR codes can also automate calls or texts, which leads to sharing of your contact details which can further be misused.
7. Using a trusted application for scanning QR codes
The majority of smartphones in recent times have the inbuilt feature of scanning the QR code in their camera. If somehow your mobile phone lacks this functionality, it is essential that you check the security features of the application you wish to use. Do your own research for filtering the best QR code scanning application. Some of the features you should consider are listed below. The application you choose must be able to detect any suspected activity through the QR code. An efficient QR code scanner provides a pop-up or notification if any suspicious activity is observed. Adding to that, it must be encrypted for obvious safety reasons. It should also limit and keep a check on permissions.
8. Opt for other alternatives for marketing
QR codes have been used extensively in the marketing domain. One of the researchers stated that 40% of all online payments were done by QR scans only. If you are concerned about your cyber privacy, you can opt for some other methods for marketing. One of the very recent technologies is NFC (Near-Field Communication) tags. Another example is SnapTags. These convert images into a specific code. It is the right option if you do want to spoil the visuals in your advertisement. The technology of image recognition is a blooming part of the technology. By adding no tags or bars as activation codes, you can easily use an image.
How to protect yourself from QR code scams?
Whenever you scan any QR code, you can get the desired information that the QR code carries. It can contain information like a website URL. QR codes are an easy & convenient way to exchange information. The fraud can be done by breaking into your personal information, payment frauds, crypto-related QR code frauds, or by introducing faulty codes or viruses.
To gain protection from fraudsters using QR codes as their way, you can protect yourself in the following ways. When receiving a message in the name of a reputed firm, make sure it is issued by them. When QR codes are used for transactions, they are rarely used for receiving money. If you are receiving money through a QR code, you are advised to check the sources to avoid any misuse of the QR codes. Installation of effective software for an added level of protection, too, can be an efficient way of protecting yourself from scans via QR codes.
Unfortunately, if you are a victim of a QR code scam, you can ask your bank to disable your account temporarily to protect your assets. For a device, it is preferable that you update your passwords. If a cybercriminal contacts you through a social media platform, you can report them on the respective platforms. You can report the case to websites dedicated to online fraud.
Wrapping It Up
QR codes are nothing evil but were developed only to ease our lifestyles. QR codes can be extremely beneficial for businesses that do not want to limit the information about their business. Among all the advantages, you still can not trust every QR code you encounter. They can be potentially used to derive information from your device or even control the activities of your device. Not every QR code you encounter will lead to ill results, but why should we not be a bit vigilant before scanning our next QR code?
You must log in to post a comment.