As QR codes continue to grow more popular with consumers, they are also growing more popular with hackers. The codes have become a very lucrative malicious tool for hackers looking to exploit their popularity. More codes are beginning to appear containing malicious content that can put a smart phone user’s important information at risk. The content embedded in QR codes is impossible to tell until after the codes are scanned. There are, however, some measures smart phone users can take to protect themselves.
QR codes can only be scanned using a barcode scanning application. More of these apps are coming with built-in security features. QR Pal, a developer of such mobile apps, has included a security feature into their newest offerings called SafeScan. The feature checks the content of the code before sending consumers to the code’s destination. If the app detects some kind of malicious program hidden away in the QR code, it will alert the user and block the content.
There are antivirus programs for smart phones as well. AVG Anti-Virus offers these sort of programs for Android smart phones. Like similar programs on computers, the antivirus system scans a smart phone for any malicious content and works to eradicate any intrusions. iPhone users can also find virus protection from Intego, a maker of mobile apps.
Of course, common sense is the best protection against malicious QR codes. Any code that looks out of place or is not associated with a well known vendor or campaign should not be scanned. Given that the codes can be generated and printed at little to no cost, hackers can place malicious codes wherever they please.