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by John W. Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Avoid Using QR Codes

May 4, 2021

We’ve all seen QR codes in magazines, on restaurant menus, on movie posters, on store front windows and places we never imagined. You probably don’t even know what QR stands for. QR is the shortcut for Quick Response. It is a coded square symbol that is used to represent additional information. In practice, we typically take our smartphones and take a picture of the QR code. Our phone then decodes the QR code information and sends us to a web page for more information. The problem with QR codes is that you REALLY don’t know where it will take you. QR codes can be evil.

Gizmodo reported that an Australian man was banned from carrying “loose QR codes” for allegedly putting his own QR codes over the ones on official COVID-19 check-in signs. Apparently, the intent was to redirect users to an anti-vaccination site. As the pandemic continues, cyber criminals are abusing QR codes according to a post on Threatpost.

“Early in the pandemic, restaurants were using QR codes as menus or payment options, but as the pandemic continued throughout 2020, consumers used QR codes more frequently for practical things like visiting a doctor’s office or picking up a prescription. Meanwhile, social activities like dining out or enjoying a drink at a bar saw QR code usage decrease in that six-month period. Even offices and places of work saw an increase in usage going from 11 percent to 14 percent, emphasizing the shift in how QR codes have been used during the pandemic.”

Call me paranoid, but I am constantly suspicious of any QR code. Avoid them at all costs.

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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology