tervosystemsqrQR Codes have become commonplace in advertising and marketing.  You will find them in magazines, billboards and business cards and are a quick and easy way to link to information such as a website or contact details.

There are risks for the user, however.  Just by looking at the code, you have no way of knowing if it points to a legitimate site or if it is a link to install malware or trick you into visiting a phishing site.

Not only can you not be sure of a proper code, criminals are now replacing legitimate QR codes on posters and signs with their own.  All it takes is a sticker with their own image that can be placed over an existing code.  Unsuspecting users can be tricked into visiting inappropriate and malicious sites.

How to Protect Yourself

Turn on the Preview Function

Many QR code readers have a preview function.  Ensure that the app you are using will allow you to preview the link before opening it in your smartphone’s browser.  If the link looks suspicious or if you have any doubts at all about the link, don’t open it.

Use a Secure QR Code Reader

Norton SnapAs threats to mobile devices become more widespread, security and anti-virus companies are developing products to help consumers protect themselves.

Symantec has developed a secure QR Code Reader that protects users from dangerous links by blocking unsafe websites from loading into the mobile browser.  Norton Snap QR Code Reader is free and is available on:

Watch for Bogus Codes

Avoid any codes that look suspicious, are haphazardly placed or look like they are a sticker covering up something else.

QR Codes are a quick an easy way to get and distribute information.  If you take a few precautions, you can keep your data safe and secure.