Ninety-one percent of American adults own a cell phone, and 56 percent own a smartphone as of May 2013, according to Pew Internet Project research. Compare that against the 43 percent who report using QR codes for discounts, 23 percent who use QR codes to purchase an item and 18 percent who report using QR codes to learn more about a brand, details the Chadwick Martin Bailey Consumer Report, and you have a major activity rife for exploitation.
QR codes are increasingly common, but they leave opportunities for malicious software to come in. There are three relevant ways to protect you against these issues:
1. Third Party Security
Every device should be enabled with an established security system. Various antivirus and security applications will review any content, especially QR codes, before they become active in your phone. Lookout Security & Antivirus is one of the most popular, with more than 494,000 reviews and approximately 75 million downloads, reports the official Google Play download page at the time of this writing. Ironically, you can obtain it with a single QR code scan.
Symantec offers secure email scanning for any attachments, blacklisting options, app download authentication, and, of course, QR malware protection for your mobile device. You can prevent identity theft with other third party security apps, particularly LifeLock. The service will contact third party lenders and remove you from any preapproved listings, as well as monitor credit reporting and status, for most malicious software is after your credit card information embedded in your phone.
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2. Observe the Location
This may seem obvious, but ask yourself this pivotal question: where is this QR code? If it is in a physical location, observe the surrounding area for potential brand messages to determine what the code is. Be ware of the common practice of planting malicious QR codes over legitimate ones. Confirm if the code is actually printed on the face and not stickered on.
If the QR code is online, confirm what website it’s posted on as well as whether the website is formerly verified through the web safety resource, Web of Trust. This app sifts every known website and accepts reviews and verification from users on its trustworthiness.
3. Post-Malware Breach: Quick Heal Mobile Security
Malicious software can sometimes sneak into your phone, but if you act quickly, you can remove the threat. Quick Heal Mobile Security acts in case of a malware breach. It enables real-time virus and spyware scans to remove any threat once active. If malware gets in to your mobile device, it will be reached promptly through the real-time scan. The device also implements SMS (text attachments) protection from potential malware.