Our Top 5 Tips for QR Code Safety

QR codes are a convenient way to receive information at your fingertips, however some are dangerous. Before you

QR codes are everywhere, and have only gained popularity since the Pandemic, as touchless technology surged to prevent the spread of COVID-19. From restaurant menus to product packaging, marketing materials to public transport, they really are all around.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, QR codes are a square shaped code that consist of an array of black and white squares. This code is machine readable and is typically used to store URL’s and information for reading. It’s super easy to scan a QR code if you have a smartphone as it can be done directly in the camera app. QR stands for ‘quick response’, allowing the user to access information instantly.

In the UK and Europe, 36.40% of smartphone users scan at least one QR code a week. They have many benefits, from enhancing marketing campaigns and benefitting the environment. They’re a quick and convenient way to receive information at your fingertips, and reduce the need for excess product packaging and printing, as lengthy pieces of information can be accessed via the code.

Despite there being many benefits to QR codes, there are some dangers to using them. Just as with other technological advancements, hackers have caught on and are exploiting QR codes to embed malicious malware. Because all QR codes look similar, when the user clicks onto the code, this risks the malicious software being transferred onto their device.  Here are 5 tips to bear in mind when scanning QR codes to keep you and your data safe.

1. Check the URL

When you go to scan a QR code, a preview of the website link is shown prior to you clicking it. If the link looks unrecognisable and doesn’t relate to the source of the QR code, take caution. Only proceed with links that will take you exactly where you expect to go.

2. Do not log in to any accounts

After clicking on a QR code, be wary about logging into any accounts. Sometimes it will be necessary to do so but be wary of sharing any personal information to websites that you access through a QR scan, as your personal information may be compromised.

3. Avoid using third-party applications

Don’t use any ‘QR scanner’ apps to scan! All smartphones today come with a QR scanner built into the camera app itself. These apps have been known to spread malware, so steer clear.

4. Never download apps

Never download an app through a QR code, only use your device’s app store. A common scam that is being used more frequently is creating a QR code that encourages the user to download a fun-looking app. However, whilst the ‘app’ is downloading, hackers are stealing your personal information and downloading malicious software onto your smartphone.

5. Invest in Cybersecurity

Ensure you have installed a high quality, sufficient cybersecurity and/or antivirus software if you’re going to be regularly scanning QR codes. Illegitimate QR codes can be hard to spot, so if you are prepared with the appropriate measures, it will help prevent any data breaches or phishing/malware cyberattacks. Don’t have any cybersecurity software? Give us a call on 0161 241 9050 and we can get your business set up with affordable, yet reliable cybersecurity.

QR codes themselves aren’t dangerous, it’s the people that exploit them that can make them dangerous. Remember, QR codes are just like links, so, treat them with the same caution as you would give a random link on the internet.

Stay safe and happy scanning! 

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