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How to Guard Against the Security Risks of Using QR Codes

Try to take these precautions when scanning QR Codes to protect your privacy and security from outside sources intent on accessing your personal data for their own purposes.

  • Be careful of QR Code stickers. Sometimes a cybercriminal will affix them over legitimate QR Codes.

  • Pay attention when you scan a QR Code. There’s an interim step between scanning the code and the launch of the browser, when you can see it’s not going to be what you expected and you can abort the action. Many people do this all the time online when they click a link and just know it’s headed to the wrong place. They save themselves a lot of aggravation by keeping an eye on where they’re headed.

  • Educate those who borrow your mobile device. If you have kids that borrow you smartphone all the time, you should educate them on the potential hazards of QR Codes. This goes for anyone who might use your mobile device on a regular basis.

    Some QR Code readers let you see the URL on the code before it links you to the destination. Just remember that many QR Codes use shortened URLs so this strategy won’t always work.

  • Be wary of QR Codes that say nothing about what they link to. A QR Code’s best practice is to let people know what they get when they scan the QR Code.

    Be especially careful if you have a mobile device that runs on the Android mobile operating system. Because Android is an open platform, cybercriminals can more easily exploit it. Because of the vulnerability of the system, it’s important to keep your Android browser up to date and to scan only QR Codes from trusted sources.

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