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Free qr code scan smartphone vector

QR codes have become ubiquitous across Australia, popping up on everything from restaurant menus to flyers and posters. They offer a convenient, swift method to access online content, such as links, coupons, or videos—simply scan them with your smartphone camera.

However, with their rising popularity, a darker aspect has emerged. Cybercriminals are exploiting QR codes for malicious purposes, crafting fake ones to steal personal information, infect devices with malware, or trick people into making unwarranted payments.

It’s critical to remain vigilant when scanning QR codes. This emerging scam underscores the potential risks associated with these seemingly innocuous squares.

QR Code scan

Image source: Adobe Stock

The QR Code Comeback
QR codes were originally designed for tracking parts in the automotive industry, QR codes have seen a resurgence in recent years, now being utilised extensively in marketing. They’re vital in sectors like retail and hospitality, providing instant access to information with a simple scan.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are adept at exploiting new technology. A phishing scam involving QR codes is now on the rise, targeting the trust we place in them.

Understanding the Scam

Scammers print a counterfeit QR code and overlay it onto a legitimate one, such as on a poster promoting a product discount or a film. An unsuspecting individual might scan the fake QR, which could redirect to a phishing site asking for sensitive information like credit card details or login credentials, or prompt the download of a malicious app containing malware. This could lead to spying, data theft, or ransom demands.

Common Scams and How to Spot Them

  1. Malicious Codes: Cybercriminals may place a fake QR code sticker over a real one, leading to harmful content or deceptive websites.

  2. Bogus Promotions: QR codes are sometimes used in sham promotions or contests, directing users to fake sites where personal information is solicited.

  3. Malware Distribution: Some QR codes automatically initiate malware downloads, jeopardising both personal data and device functionality.

Staying Safe: QR Code Scanning Tips

  • Verify the Source: Exercise caution with QR codes from unknown or dubious sources. Verify their legitimacy, especially if personal data entry is prompted.

  • Use a QR Code Scanner App: Opt for a dedicated scanner app offering additional security features like code analysis and website reputation checks, instead of your device’s default camera app.

  • Inspect the URL: Before clicking a link from a QR code, check the URL to ensure it’s the legitimate site it claims to represent.

  • Avoid Suspicious Codes: If a QR code looks odd or tampered with, it’s better to avoid scanning it. Trust your instincts here.

  • Update Your Device: Keep your operating system and apps updated. Regular updates include security enhancements that safeguard against vulnerabilities.

  • Be Wary of Websites: Avoid entering personal information on websites accessed via QR codes. For payments or donations, stick to trusted and secure methods only.

Contact Us for Phishing Resistant Solutions

While QR codes can be handy and even fun, they can also pose significant risks if not handled cautiously. Protect yourself against scammers exploiting curiosity.

This type of scam is part of a broader phishing threat—one of the most severe risks to both individuals and organisations today. If you need help ensuring your devices are phishing-resistant, contact us for more information.