Tag: malicious qr codes

QR codes can be harmful when precautions aren’t taken

qr codes cautionMobile marketers love these barcodes , but as consumers embrace them, unscrupulous efforts grow.

It’s difficult to open a magazine or a flyer, these days, without seeing QR codes in all of the adds, but just as their popularity grows, so does their attractiveness to unethical individuals who would take advantage of this opportunity to cause harm.

These little black and white codes may look simple enough, but they may now pose an underlying threat.

It took quite a while for consumers to start to feel the enthusiasm for QR codes that mobile marketers have felt from the start. This has meant that individuals who would seek to use them for harmful purposes have left them alone for quite some time. But as the scanning trend continues to grow, so have the hazards associated with the activity.

Malicious QR codes have started to pop up here and there now that the technology has become commonplace.

Though it is still rare for malicious QR codes to appear, they have started showing up on occasion, and their impact can be quite damaging. This is because there are far more mobile device users that have barcode scanners than there are those who have protection against the type of attack that a tainted scan could present.

QR codes are meant to make it easy to redirect a device user to an app or a website to provide information, generate a download, view a video, or even to help buy a product or make a charitable donation. However, when a permissive reader app has been used, even a seemingly harmless scan could place the user’s privacy at risk.

The most common strategy that is used in order to encourage malicious barcode scans is simply to place a sticker with the harmful code overtop of the legitimate square. Therefore, one of the best efforts that a device user can make to protect his or her security is simply to double check that the QR codes they scan are printed directly onto materials from companies that they trust, and aren’t printed onto a sticker. Downloading a scanner app with built in protection is also a highly recommended activity.

Malicious QR codes growing in number


Malicious QR codesSymantec sees increase in malicious QR codes

Though QR codes are struggling to find a foothold with many consumers, their use is growing among a very particular demographic: Hackers. Symantec, a leading security solutions provides, has issued warnings concerning the growth of malicious QR codes in high-traffic areas. According to Symantec, hackers are beginning to place malicious QR codes in densely populated areas in order to increase  their own reach and attack mobile devices that may contain valuable information.

Popular marketing tools are also gaining the attention of hackers

QR codes are popular marketing tools, allowing businesses to stay engaged with consumers in a dynamic way. The codes are widely used as information distribution tools and as part of loyalty programs from big-name retailers. The codes have proven effective in the past, but many consumers have begun avoiding the codes for a variety of reasons. Security is among these reasons, and Symantec suggests that the time has come for consumers to take mobile security more seriously.

Hackers using QR code stickers to attack consumer information

According to Symantec, hackers are generating malicious QR codes, printing them as stickers, and covering legitimate QR codes with these malicious variants. Advertisements from major retail companies are popular targets, and passersby can rarely tell that a malicious QR codes have been used to cover a legitimate one. Consumers often scan these codes in order to access special deals being offered by retailers, but find  that their phone has been infected with a virus instead.

Applications can help keep mobile devices safe from exploitation

There are a variety of ways to keep a mobile device secure. Symantec, as well as other security firms, offer mobile applications that act as a form of anti-virus platform for smart phones and tablets. Some of these mobile security applications can also investigate a QR code before it is scanned to determine whether it is associated with a legitimate or malicious website. These applications can significantly reduce the danger that exists with malicious QR codes and keep a consumer’s information safe.