The internet is filled with awesome information. It is also filled with tons of viruses, malware, phising scams, and people trying to skim information when you visit their site. For years we have been warned not to click on links in those offbeat emails we get.
A few years ago, QR codes (those little square bar codes) started to become the latest rage among Gen Y, but now just about every corporation is using QR codes to promote their products and take advantage of your cell phone’s capabilities. Just scan the QR code and you are immediately taken to the company’s website for more information. I even jumped on the bandwagon and created a few QR codes for WeTip.com two years ago.
As technology gets smarter, so do the criminals that use it. The criminals have figured out that we are all too happy to snap pictures of everything, including QR codes. With links in email we can just hover our mouse over the link and see the actual website address. The problem with QR codes is that they are printed on hard copy, meaning that what the code links to is unknown. We can’t see where we are going til we get there and that spells trouble for us and gold for criminals.
Criminals and hackers are getting wealthy with these QR codes. Once you scan a malcode, you are taken to a website or virus file on the internet where the damage is done. Criminals are becoming ever more sophisticated by placing QR code stickers on retail products in less reputable stores, showing you reviews of the product you are interested in, but installing viruses behind the scenes.
So, what do you do. Treat the QR codes with the same care as you would links in emails. If it looks like the QR code was not part of the original packaging, don’t click on it.