As QR codes become more popular they are seeing more use. Only a year ago, the codes were all but unknown in the U.S. Now, they have become a staple in the world of marketing and are establishing themselves as a powerful and versatile social networking tool. Yet, the advent of QR codes in the west is not without its dangers and the Better Business Bureau of Canada and the U.S. has issued a number of warnings when it comes to using the codes.
It may be difficult to attribute any kind of threat to the unassuming QR code, but dangers do indeed lurk in the labyrinthine patterns of the codes. Generally, the codes are used to link consumers to special offers from retailers or as part of an advertising campaign from a big-name company. However, these codes can also lead to websites riddled with malicious content such as spyware and phishing programs. The danger is compounded by the fact that there is no telling where a QR code leads until it is scanned – and by then it may be too late.
The BBB has a few recommendations when it comes to safe use of QR codes. First, users must understand that the codes can, in fact, be used for a malicious purpose. Verifying the source of codes is also important. Codes that are not attached to an obvious marketing campaign can be linked to malicious content. QR coded stickers are easy to produce, so be wary of labels with such stickers.
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Additionally, mobile users can download a variety of security software for their smart phones as a safeguard against attacks, but there is no guarantee of absolute protection due to the constantly evolving nature of cybercrime.