What is a QR Code?
A QR (Quick Response) code is a two dimensional barcode, a wonderful marketing tool as it is able to store lots of information. Consumers / clients can take out their handy smartphones and scan the QR code to directly access coupons, discounts, information, etc. This saves the consumer / client the agony of manually inputting the website URL.
For a creator of QR code, you can basically generate 2 types of QR code:
Static QR Code: The exact destination website URL is placed directly into the QR code and no modifications are allowed to the destination URL.
Dynamic QR Code: Rather than placing the exact destination website URL into the QR code, a short URL or redirection link is placed into the QR code. Thus, with the redirection link intact, the destination website URL could be changed even after the QR code has been created.
Convenience but dangers lurk
With usage of QR code gaining more traction (refer to the Q1 2014 Code Scan Volume by QRStuff below), criminals have also discovered that they can make use of QR code to:
– Infect your smartphone with Malware
– Trick you to a phishing site
– Steal your private information stored in your smartphone
Protecting yourself against Malicious QR codes
Thus, we must not let our guard down when scanning any QR codes so as not to fall prey to any criminal ploy / attempt.
Follow some or all of these tips to better safeguard yourself against malicious QR code:
- Use a QR scanner / reader with built-in security.
- Disable ‘Auto Open’ feature in scanner / reader.
- Make sure there is no sticker overlaying the original QR code.
- Do not disclose private and confidential information on unverified landing page / website.
- Install mobile security application that will automatically scan for malware, viruses, etc. Some anti-virus / security apps are: Sophos Free Antivirus & Security; Lookout Security & Antivirus; ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus; 360 Security; TrustGo Antivirus & Security; Malwarebytes Anti-Malware; McAfee Antivirus & Security; Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus, etc.
Let’s not take our mobile security for granted. Just imagine the inconvenience and heartache should our smartphone be infected with malware and / or virus and all our stored, private data destroyed or compromised. Balance the ease and convenience of obtaining information through the scanning of a QR code with some basic mobile security knowledge and this will go a long way towards protecting our personal information!