QR codes have become increasingly popular, especially during the pandemic, as people have become more aware of the benefits of touchless technology to avoid the spread of COVID-19. You might have noticed them everywhere, from restaurant menus to product packaging, marketing materials to public transport.
In case you’re not familiar with QR codes, they are square-shaped codes consisting of an array of black and white squares that are machine-readable and typically used to store URLs and information for reading.
They are easy to scan with a smartphone camera, and once scanned, the user can instantly access the information stored within the code. The term “QR” stands for “quick response.”
The benefits of QR codes
There are numerous benefits of QR codes, from enhancing marketing campaigns to benefiting the environment. They provide a quick and convenient way to access information without the need for excess product packaging and printing, as lengthy pieces of information can be accessed via the code.
However, just like with any other technological advancement, QR codes have also attracted the attention of hackers who are exploiting them to embed malicious malware.
Since all QR codes look similar, clicking on the wrong code can risk transferring malicious software onto your device.
QR Code Safety Tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind to scan QR codes safely and protect your data:
Check the URL
Before clicking on a QR code, take a look at the preview of the website link. If the link looks unrecognisable and doesn’t relate to the source of the QR code, be cautious. Only proceed with links that take you exactly where you expect to go.
Avoid logging into accounts
Be careful about logging into any accounts after clicking on a QR code. Sometimes, it may be necessary to do so, but be wary of sharing any personal information on websites accessed through a QR scan, as your personal information may be compromised.
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. Third-party apps have been known to spread malware, so steer clear.
Never download apps
Never download an app through a QR code. Only use your device’s app store. A common scam is creating a QR code that encourages users to download a fun-looking app. While the “app” is downloading, hackers are stealing your personal information and downloading malicious software onto your smartphone.
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 being prepared with appropriate measures will help prevent data breaches or phishing/malware cyberattacks.
Remember, QR codes themselves aren’t dangerous; it’s the people who exploit them that can make them dangerous.
Treat QR codes with the same caution as you would give a random link on the internet to stay safe.
Using QR Codes in your business
For more advice and support for using QR Codes in your business, please get in touch; a team member will be happy to help.