QR codes are an innovation that has become very useful in quick information transfers but with the increasing usage of them in our daily lives, it begs the question of whether they are always safe to scan. In this blog, we explore their usage and how you can avoid scanning malicious QR codes.


What are QR codes?


QR codes are the latest type of barcode that, unlike the traditional vertical line barcodes, appears as a formation of pixels in a square shape. Just like regular barcodes, they can be scanned by digital devices and smartphone cameras. There are all kinds of information that can be stored in a QR code such as links to URLs, phone numbers, videos, encryption details, payment information, social media profiles, emails, apps, and more.




Is it safe to scan unknown QR codes?


No, scanning unknown QR codes could result in scanning a code planted by cyber criminals. Those with malicious intent can easily embed hidden malware into QR codes that can infiltrate the device you scanned the code with. This could result in stolen passwords, logins, bank information, and other personal information. Cybercriminals can also link the code to a phishing site that convinces users to hand over valuable information. This is why you should ensure that you’re only scanning QR codes associated with brands and businesses you trust. Even then, make sure that the code you’re scanning looks legitimate as scammers could easily be covering up a legitimate code making it seem like it’s from a reputable company.


How to stay protected from malicious QR codes


It can be difficult to tell whether a QR code has malicious intent until you scan it but it could be too late once you’ve discovered that it’s a scam. The best ways to keep your phone and data protected are:

  • Check the domain name – when you’ve scanned a QR code, in the pop-up, you should check the name of the domain before clicking to accept it. If it’s familiar, then you can probably trust it.
  • Avoid using 3rd party QR code scanners – use your camera to scan QR codes instead of 3rd party scanners that could also be trying to scam you.
  • Inspect the QR code’s source – don’t scan any QR codes that are found in random locations and walls. Codes found on product packaging, marketing material, and at physical business locations are more likely to be trustworthy.
  • Update your phone to the latest smartphone operating system – the newest software will keep your phone secure from scams and other digital threats.


Take a proactive approach  against digital threats with FraudWatch


FraudWatch specialises in digital brand protection against all kinds of online threats. Work with us to ensure your organisation is protected from phishing, malware, brand abuse, and social media impersonation. Chat with one of our analysts today and we can find the most suited solutions for your organisation.