Until a QR code is scanned, there is no way to know for certain where it will redirect a smartphone or tablet user, meaning that there is some risk that unethical individuals will use the barcodes to add a malicious code to the user’s mobile device.
Fortunately, there are some ways for concerned mobile device users to protect themselves against website links with malevolent codes and infected app downloads.
iPhone users don’t need to worry as heavily, as apps for Apple devices are carefully screened to make sure that their codes are all safe. However, even with the toughest security – including that for iPhones – there are still holes that have been discovered (though they have been patched), meaning that there may always be some vulnerabilities. Those that have been found have been as simple as opening a PDF file that allows malware to be introduced.
Though there can never be a completely risk-free QR code, in reality, the risk remains quite low. However, to further decrease the risk, use the following techniques:
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• Choose a QR code scanning app that has security built into it.
• Download a security app that has a QR code scanner built into it.
• Download an antivirus app that will scan your files, media, settings and apps in real time and automatically eliminate those that are potentially harmful.
• Use your common sense and be more careful about the codes you scan when the publisher cannot be verified. For example, codes in a reputable magazine are more trustworthy than those taped to a public trash can or telephone pole.