We are now using QR code generator more than ever, but we also are skeptical about the security of QR code scanners for information sharing. Can the easy-to-use 2D codes be a tool for malicious activity?
The answer is no! The security risks often associated with QR code generators are not from QR code technology but the final destination of each QR code. Static QR Codes are device-readable, and the encoded content cannot be changed once generated. Users can change the information in a dynamic QR Code, but one would need access to the user account that created it in the first place. A third party can hack the web page associated with a QR code, steal data and link malicious software in the same way as SMS and email frauds occur.
QR codes are widespread across the globe. The most dangerous internet practices are usually financial. QR codes generators are safe to use and integrate additional safety measures in some cases, such as payments. Online banking sites, for example, use QR code generator as part of two-factor authentication. After logging into their accounts, users get an additional authentication on their mobile banking app via a QR code scan.
Security of Personal Information
QR code scanner has no security issues and cannot be hacked. In addition, most QR code generators collect minimal data, not personally identifiable information, from users who scan QR codes. The data collected through QR codes is only visible to the QR code generator and may include details like location, number of scans, time of the scan, and operating system (iOS or Android) of the device used to scan the code.
Risks associated with QR Code Security
Security threats are because of a sender who cannot be trusted, and such threats can find their way through any medium. Technology for easy information sharing is not the actual source of fraud. Security issues associated with QR codes are:
Hackers use phishing as a way to break into websites. They often begin by imitating a company’s identity by emailing a log-in page to which it is easy to fall prey for users. When the user logs into the website, the hacker finds an email to attack the website.
Therefore, the user must exercise great caution during the process of scanning and look out for suspicious ads, links, and identities. For example, QR codes in advertisements on an e-commerce website can take you to another website with security issues. Unfortunately, while browsing on the phone, users are highly likely not to pay any attention to the company URL.
Such frauds can happen with print material by sticking another QR code on a genuine poster as well. Such scams are particularly dangerous for online banking and private information.
Malicious software frauds happen while downloading information, many of which may be towards Android users due to the open-source software. Such download attacks usually work by directing the user to a website that automatically forces a download without any user action. Just visiting the website may also lead to a download. Some hidden applications can also affect mobile phones, steal user information, and sell personal details to premium numbers.
Hackers can use QR code generators to direct users to websites that can initiate such downloads. Therefore, users need to check the URL they are referred to after scanning a QR code before completing the process by giving further details.
Another type of security risk is through dangerous websites, which can attack in multiple ways, namely, download malicious software, steal user data, activate the camera, access browser data, send spam emails or use the device to attack other user devices. What’s worse is that all these activities are invisible, and the user cannot see them while it happens.
Sounds too dangerous to believe, right? But prevention from such frauds is possible, provided you are attentive while going to a new URL, responding to an email, and downloading an application.
How to secure QR Codes
The precaution that every internet user must exercise extends to the usage of QR codes as well.
Ensure the source of QR code before scanning:
Spam emails and print material in public spaces can have QR codes, so it is crucial to verify the company’s legitimacy asking you to scan the code. Users must verify the security features of the URL and domain authenticity. The QR code generator and the actual website name used can be different. One can also check the design by observing whether the QR code looks professional or not.
Check the posters for tampering or overlapping carefully. Verifying whether the QR code is part of the original print or a sticker is pasted on top of another material can help you differentiate between a genuine marketer and a fraudulent QR code collector.
Verifying the URL that the QR code scan takes you to separately before completing the call to action can save you from a malicious trap. The URL used by the QR Code Generator may be different from the actual website’s web page fraudulently used.
Most users scan QR codes using their smartphones these days. For extra caution, one can disable the ‘open website automatically’ option to check the link for legitimacy before completing the scan activity.
Mobile Applications for Security:
Users can download anti-virus or anti-malware application for mobile phones, just like they did for desktops for additional security. Security tools can notify users of strange URLs and prevent download attacks.
Anti-Counterfeit Invisible QR Codes:
Industries like pharmaceuticals, automobiles, consumer electronics, tax, excise and revenue stamps, and security labels use cutting-edge inkjet technology empowered by inorganic security taggants. This tool provides covert and forensic security to legally enforceable documents.
Anti-Copy QR Code:
This technology consists of a highly secure QR code used by Fortune 500 companies and deployed by government agencies like the Ministry of Finance, the Department of Motorized Vehicles, educational institutes, and certification bodies. The technology has unique anti-counterfeiting and anti-forgery features. In addition, it can enable code delivery on smartphones through custom-designed security labels, which are impossible to replicate. Under this technology, QR codes can be scanned by a dedicated inspection app of the decryption module to enable the reading of secret information via Android, iOS, web apps, or logistics devices.
In a nutshell, QR code scanners have no security issues. As long as you remain intelligent and vigilant while using the internet, QR codes are perfectly safe to use, and so is QRCodeChimp. QR codes generators are an accessible and valuable tool for brands to direct customers to campaign pages, collect data, and launch promotions.