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Visitor, QR Codes-malicious or safe?

Visitor, QR Codes-malicious or safe?

Dear Visitor 

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August 2021


QR Codes-malicious or safe?

As we move farther into the era of technology and innovation, the internet and it's uses is becoming more integrated into everyday life. People of all ages use computers, smartphones, and tablets, and as we become more advanced users of these devices so do the unseen hackers that constantly look for ways to attack us. QR codes, a once harmless method of convenience used to access websites, are now being used by hackers across the web to obtain information and inject malware.

Quick reaction codes or QR codes are barcode like images that smartphones cameras can interpret to pull up a website, however since 2019, more hackers have been using the technology to disguise harmful links in emails and websites. Similar to how users can pull up websites at their convenience, hackers use technology to embed harmful websites so that they can initiate a Trojan download which gives hackers the ability to initiate malicious downloads or extract information from a victim's device.


While malicious QR codes can be hard to detect, here are a few guidelines to keep you and your data safe:

Treat every QR code like a link, do not scan codes from people or businesses you do not know or trust. If it looks fake or deceptive avoid it.

It’s important to be leery of using QR codes—even though the pandemic brought about QR code menus, it’s better to still get a hard copy menu if at all possible. Many times the QR code scanned for a restaurant will track when, where, and how often you are scanning a QR code. Personal data can be taken and stored in a database, such as your name, phone number and credit card, which in turn can be shared with other places. Your purchase history can also be tracked as the QR code systems can initiate cookies. Most QR code systems do not offer customers an ability to opt out of anything and do not have clear privacy controls.


Besides the above, hackers are using QR codes to scam people. If you see a special deal pop up stating to click a QR code for a discount, it’s best to think twice or three times, as a hacker could be directing you to malware launching a ransomware attack. There is nothing preventing a QR code from being programmed to start and open anything, even harmful websites and malicious apps.


It’s hard to tell a malicious QR code from a safe one, so if you do plan to scan it’s best to use a QR scanner you can trust. Do your research and find one you feel confident to download. QR codes may seem harmless, but it’s important to know that hackers are at work and since we cannot read QR codes, we need to be diligent.


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