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What may be lurking behind that QR code

QR codes have become increasingly popular in our daily lives, offering a fast and convenient way to obtain information via our smartphones. They also contribute to environmental conservation by reducing the need for paper menus or flyers. However, it’s important to be aware that QR codes can also be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing money, identity, or other data. This article, originally published here, explores the dangers of QR codes and provides tips on how to protect yourself.

The history of QR codes dates back to 1994 when they were invented by a Japanese company called Denso Wave. Initially used for tracking automotive parts, QR codes have since expanded their use in various industries. They are now commonly used by businesses for marketing collateral, routing prospects to web forms, and even replacing user manuals with web-hosted versions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes saw a surge in usage as organizations sought contactless methods of doing business.

Despite their convenience and versatility, QR codes can be exploited by hackers who leverage social engineering to prey on human assumptions or habits. Cybercriminals can easily generate QR codes that lead to phishing websites, unscrupulous apps, automatic downloads of malware or spyware, rogue wireless networks, fraudulent phone calls, spam emails or texts, and even unauthorized digital payments.

To protect yourself from malicious QR codes, there are several precautions you can take. First, consider the source and legitimacy of the QR code. QR codes found on food packaging or permanently mounted signs may be less risky than those from unknown sources. If you receive a QR code via email or text, verify its legitimacy through a different means of communication. Additionally, try to find alternate methods of obtaining the information you need, such as visiting the business’ website or requesting a paper menu.

It’s crucial to never enter sensitive information, like login credentials or financial details, on a webpage accessed through a QR code. Avoid jailbreaking your device, as this bypasses security measures and exposes it to potential risks. Lastly, ensure that you have a mobile threat defense solution installed on your devices to block phishing attempts, malicious websites, and risky network connections.

In conclusion, while QR codes offer convenience and efficiency, they also pose security risks. By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to malicious QR code attacks.

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