QR codes use at Trinity College teach an online privacy lesson

QR Codes and mobile Security

A mysterious quick response code was displayed at various places throughout the University campus.

Over the short while, QR codes have been posted at a number of different spots across the campus of Trinity College, Dublin, as a type of projection that has left students, staff, and faculty members wondering where it could lead and who was behind it.

When scanned, these quick response codes led to a website requesting the device user’s personal details.

Over a short period of time, the QR codes were scanned more than 100 times, in an effort – as it turns out – to teach mobile device users an important lesson about protecting private data when using smartphones and tablets. Scanning the code brought device users to a mobile friendly website that asked about their birthday, gender, occupation, email address, and even their credit card details.

What was surprising, was the amount of data that people were willing to share after scanning the QR codes.

QR Codes and mobile SecurityAmong those who scanned the QRcodes, 90 percent were willing to provide their gender and their name. Among the most shocking findings was that more than one quarter (27 percent) of the people who scanned the barcodes were actually willing to provide their credit card numbers.


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Fortunately for the people who scanned these quick response codes, this experiment was secure and it was designed to show people how willing they were to provide information about themselves, even when they were not entirely sure who would be receiving it or how it would be used.

The study was conducted to align with the ninth annual Data Protection Day, the purpose of which was to boost awareness in the public with regards to the type of information that is being collected from them and what their rights were in terms of their own privacy.

When it came to the lesson that could be learned in this experiment using QR codes, Trinity College explained that “While this exercise was for demonstrative purposes only with a view to raising awareness regarding placing personal data online, it could easily have had a more sinister agenda. The moral of the story – Think before you click!”

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