Secure use of QR codes: Protect yourself from cybercrime

Created on 10 July, 2023QR-code • 3 minutes read

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, have become an integral part of our digital world. They provide us with quick and efficient access to information. But how secure are they? In this article, we dive deeper into the world of QR codes and give you simple guidelines for safe use.

What are QR codes?

QR codes are an advanced version of the traditional bar codes familiar from product packaging in the supermarket. Unlike bar codes, which are only read horizontally, QR codes can be read both horizontally and vertically. This means they can contain much more information, such as a website URL, a phone number or up to 4,000 characters of text.

How are QR codes used?

QR codes are used in a variety of ways. They open websites, download apps, collect loyalty points, make payments and even transfer money to charities. They have also become an essential part of many marketing campaigns, giving customers quick and easy access to special offers, product information and more.

The risks of QR codes

As with any technology, there are risks associated with using QR codes. One of the biggest problems is that people cannot see what happens when they scan a QR code. They have to rely on the creators of the code, and that makes the system vulnerable. Cybercriminals can exploit this vulnerability by creating their own QR codes that contain malicious content. When these codes are scanned, the content may contain malware that can lead to data theft or other malicious activities.

Therefore, it is important to be careful when scanning QR codes and make sure the source is reliable. It is also important to understand the content of the QR code before scanning it, especially if it involves personal or financial information.

Safe use of QR codes

To safely use QR codes, it is wise to follow some simple guidelines:

  1. Do not scan QR codes from suspicious or unknown sources.
  2. Always check the URL link displayed before clicking on the QR code. Be extra careful if the URL is shortened, as this may be a disguised link to a phishing site.
  3. Perform a quick physical inspection before scanning a QR code on a poster or sign to make sure it has not been replaced or pasted over.
  4. Use a secure QR scanner app that also checks harmful content.

By following these simple guidelines, you can use QR codes safely and protect yourself from cybercrime.

More insight into the world of QR codes

QR codes are created using special software that converts the desired information into a series of pixels in a square grid. These pixels form patterns that can be read by a QR scanner, usually an app on a smartphone. The scanner interprets the patterns and converts them into the original information, whether that is a URL, a piece of text or something else.

There are four types of QR codes, depending on how the data is stored: numeric, alphanumeric, byte and kanji. They also have different input modes depending on the version being used. This makes QR codes very versatile and adaptable to different needs.

QR codes can be created in many different shapes and styles, including Aztec, Maxi code, PDF417 and Semacode. This means they can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business or campaign, making them a very flexible tool for marketing and communications.

Applications of QR codes

QR codes are widely used in sales and marketing, for coronavirus tracking, on product packaging, in industry, in postal services and in education. They provide a fast, efficient and cost-effective way to share and collect information, making them a valuable tool for businesses and organizations of all sizes.

But despite their many benefits, it is important to always be careful when using QR codes. As we discussed earlier, they can be abused by cybercriminals, so it is essential to always be vigilant and take the necessary precautions.