QR Codes: A Tool for Criminals

You know those little black and white boxes you see on ads and billboards lately, used by advertisers and marketers. In many cases, these QR codes are encoded web links. They are intended to save users the hassle of writing down a web address or other information while they’re out and about. A quick scan with a smartphone is all you need to use the decoded message.

Most scanning applications will recognize that the code is a link and instantly open a web browser. Here’s where the bad guys can enter the picture. Criminals have discovered that they can use QR codes to infect your smartphone with malware, trick you to visiting a phishing web site, or steal information from your mobile device.

All a criminal has to do is use one of the QR code-generating tools available for free on the Internet, print out the code and affix it to an existing ad or poster, replacing the safe QR code with his risky one. You won’t know you’re scanning a malicious link until it’s too late.

Learn what you can do to protect yourself from malicious QR codes.

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About MIT
IT Security Awareness Consultant and Communications Specialist at MIT

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