There are many good qualities surrounding QR codes, but there is also a darker side to the black and white barcode. This dark side, however, is not inherent in the codes themselves; rather it is a product of maliciousness stemming from the sordid world of cyber crime. The codes are famed for the convenience and ease of use, a fact that can be easily exploited by anyone that has the mind to do so. As QR codes continue to become more popular, cyber criminals are looking to use the codes to score an easy pay day.
QR codes themselves are unassuming and cannot be used to cause real harm by itself. The codes can, however, direct traffic toward a dubious end – namely a website containing a virus. These websites are often encountered on a daily basis, but usually avoided because of their suspicious looking URLs. QR codes do not display URLs before being scanned, making it impossible to determine whether or not the code is, in fact, linking to a legitimate website.
There are relatively few viruses or malicious software that can cause problems with mobile devices, but these programs are becoming more sophisticated. With mobile payments growing in popularity, the chances of a virus infecting a phone and stealing financial data are becoming significant. Coupled with emerging NFC technology, mobile viruses may become more widespread than ever before.
Security experts say that the best way to avoid falling victim to cyber crime, specifically as it pertains to QR codes, is not to scan codes that seem suspicious in any way.