Quick response codes are becoming popular among both mobile marketers and consumers, but malware is becoming a concern.
As with virtually every other form of online technology, mobile barcodes are now falling victim to misuse by malicious individuals and companies that are beginning to use it as a new form of cyber attack.
QR codes are inexpensive for brands and retailers and simple and convenient for smartphone using consumers, allowing them to gain instant access to apps to be downloaded, informational or mobile commerce websites, email list subscriptions, videos, or many other forms of tools and content. Their low cost simplicity makes them highly appealing. Unfortunately, they do have one significant flaw.
There is no way to tell what the result of scanning the two dimensional barcode will be.
They may be printed on an ad for a product or service, but until the QR codes are actually scanned, their destination cannot be identified. This leaves the smartphone user wondering how safe it is to use this technology and whether or not it will put them at risk of being hacked.
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There are some things that consumers can do to keep themselves safe.
There are a growing number of apps that have been designed to help to boost the security of the use of mobile barcodes. By using one that allows you to simply reveal the URL associated with a quick response code, you will be able to better determine whether or not it is legitimate. If it uses a URL shortener encryption, or if it simply looks suspicious or unofficial, then it may be wise to simply avoid using that particular barcode.
Once you scan QR codes, if you are taken directly to a sign-in area, it is best not to fill it in to try to log in to the site or service as this is one of the most common techniques used by criminals who are attempting to discover your login or personal information. Though this can be used by legitimate companies, most feel that it simply isn’t worth the risk to their identities. That said, most companies will not require you to provide personal information to take advantage of their information or discounts.