The world has undergone a speedy digital transformation, stimulated in part by the worldwide pandemic; the QR code technology has gone from being a dormant solution to a vital and popular digital tool that every industry and individual is looking forward to leveraging.
Currently, people are doing almost everything online, and even when out and about, nobody wants to touch many things and spend a lot of time queuing or waiting for a lengthy payment process.
QR codes are an ideal solution since they’re easy to generate and use and can store a huge amount of data. Additionally, there are numerous types, ranging from QR code business card and social media QR code solutions to restaurant QR code and Wi-Fi QR code solutions. Thanks to smartphones and tablets’ in-built QR code scanning features, everyone has the means to scan QR codes.
While QR codes have been around for several decades, they gained their real potential a few years ago in the wake of the pandemic. These digital solutions offer numerous benefits, but they also come with some security threats.
Since QR codes are easy to generate, they cannot verify if the service or product being offered is genuine. Also, attackers hide malware behind these codes, making them insecure. However, just like any other security threat, there are numerous ways to avoid being a security threat victim. To discover more, read on.
What’re QR Codes?
It’s vital to understand what QR codes are to know how security threats come in and learn how you can avoid them. You cannot solve a problem that you don’t know its origin. That’s why it’s important to understand what QR codes are. In their most basic and original form, QR codes are black-and-white squares with certain information stored in them.
QR codes were designed and created to hold more information than their barcode counterparts. The ability of scanners to read them quickly was also a vital consideration for the founder and developer of QR codes. After being introduced in 1994 by Denso Wave in the automotive supply sector, QR codes are currently popular, allowing users to link physical touchpoints and online content.
Combined with the ability to generate dynamic and custom QR codes, this technology has become a favorite among different industries, brands, and individuals who want to engage their target consumers in a new and effective way.
QR Code Increase in Popularity
The pandemic brought about a touchless world, significantly increasing QR codes’ popularity and adoption. The main reason for this increase was that scanning QR codes wasn’t limited to expensive scanners and third-party applications.
What users wanted was only a smartphone that had an in-built QR code scanner. And in response to this, all smartphone manufacturers started to add in-built QR code scanners in their camera apps. That means users only need to launch their camera apps and focus them on the QR codes they want to scan.
The pandemic further added fuel to the QR codes rejuvenation tank. Its touchless requirements meant that different industries, especially those that massively depend on people requiring contact, such as restaurants, had to ensure that is avoided, and the only solution to this was QR codes.
With time, the no-touch pandemic requirements resulted in newer QR code use cases emerging in different sectors and contexts. As a result, the use of QR codes has grown to include digital business cards, inventory tracking, and food and beverage packaging, among others.
Along with this massive increase in adoption and popularity, cybercriminals, hackers, and virtual scammers are using this technology to their advantage. So should you be worried about QR codes anytime you spot them? No, there are always ways to deal with these threats. So let’s dig deeper to unearth more.
Are QR Codes Still Relevant and safe?
QR codes are not going anywhere. The quest for suitability and convenience rules the world of consumers, and it’s true that QR codes save the hassle of noting down web and email addresses, contact details, and any other vital information.
Smartphone users can simply scan QR codes and access any information they want. QR codes are and will still be popular, the only concern being whether they are safe. Here are popular risks you need to know before or when using QR codes.
Criminals can infect malware on your smartphone. They achieve that by requesting unsuspecting individuals to scan a certain QR code that links to infected sites. Accessing an infected site can activate a malicious download. Criminals deliver QR codes with malware behind them by sending them through emails that appear to be genuine enticing users to scan them.
Pressing a malicious link is just similar to scanning a QR code leading to the same web link. Cybercriminals use phishing attacks or social engineering techniques such as pairing Quick Response codes with enticing texts “like scan to get ABCD” to trick users into scanning to access their devices. Some criminals are courageous enough to place dangerous QR codes in high-traffic areas without any text.
QR Codes Clickjacking
Another popular threat is clickjacking, a tactic that directs users who scan certain QR codes to a reliable and legit-looking site that features actionable content like buttons that encourage users to click on them. These buttons result in downloading malware into devices, which can lead to unauthorized access to sensitive information and loss of money or devices.
QR Code Security Measures and Best Practices
To stay secure, ensure all QR codes you scan are legit. That means you only scan them when you want to access helpful content or complete a certain process like making a payment. On top of that, there are various things to consider before scanning any QR code. Doing so makes sure that you aren’t vulnerable to fraud or hacks. With that in mind, here are some of the best practices for both users and businesses.
- Always check the QR code for any suspicious content
- Avoid third-party QR scanning apps
- Always verify the link or URL before following it
- Custom brand all QR codes
- SSL-certify all your web pages
- Partner with trusted and reliable QR solution providers
- Opt for Quick Response password protection
- Invest in compliant Quick Response code generators
Keep in mind that QR codes are here to stay, so utilize these proven techniques and tips to avoid any threat linked to this helpful and important technology.