When it is about storing all types of data, a QR code just solves the purpose. A QR code or Quick Response code is a two-dimensional barcode that can help you store any type of data. In the recent times, QR Codes have gained immense popularity in the world of consumer advertising owing to various favorable factors such as fast readability, and huge storage capabilities. These QR codes can be commonly found on various forms of media such as television advertisements, websites, product packaging, magazines, posters, and newspapers.
Using these QR codes is simple as well. To decode the QR Code, the users would simply require to scan the image of the QR code using any device that has a built-in camera along with an application to read a QR Code. These QR codes are used to encode information with hyperlinks that may lead to online resources such as social media pages, websites, app downloads, and online videos. These QR codes may also be used to provide access to contact details and other useful information. Using QR codes are preferred due to many reasons and in the next section we will talk about the reasons of using the QR code in detail.
Here are the reasons why QR codes are used:
1. Used to get URLs – Many times it is imperative for the advertisers to provide a website hyperlink for the user to follow and get to the sales or business website. Putting the website hyperlink as it is on adverts and making the users to write it down can be cumbersome both for the users and for the business it is like risking useful business leads. Instead, putting a QR code on adverts and posters is a good idea.
The QR code saves the time of users by leading them to the websites and sales pages in seconds. The users save the time and hassle in taking down and entering the website address thereby ensuring that businesses can make full use of the user attention span. This helps them in generating more and better high-quality traffic to their websites. Most QR code reader applications and cameras will directly take the user to the website thereby making the user view the website or sales pages quickly and easily.
2. Used to trigger application downloads – Many businesses have their storefronts in the form of mobile applications and in order to boost sales they run campaigns to promote their mobile applications. When running such campaigns, a hyperlink to let the customers directly download the application always helps. QR codes can be used to encode the hyperlinks to these mobile phone apps so that users can directly download the app from the link without too much hassles. This as such can come very handy for businesses as a way of promoting their brands and increase their application downloads and in turn their sales volumes and customer base.
3. Used to trigger application launch – All mobile devices have their set of functions: calendar, address book, texting, emailing, contact book, internet browsing, etc. There may be instances where a business might want the users to call them directly. In such scenarios, these QR codes can be used to trigger say a Skype call or a voice call. Similarly, a QR code can also be used to scan and trigger some basic functions such as emailing, texting, etc. This can help users to save their time in contacting the business using the basic functions as required.
4. Used for offering coupons and loyalty discounts – When it comes to offering coupons and loyalty discounts, QR codes can come extremely handy. Customers can capture these loyalty discounts by scanning QR codes using the mobile devices. There is no need for customers to print the coupons as all they need to do is scan the QR code and get the coupon or the loyalty discount. This has many advantages such as eliminating the need of printing paper, ease of sharing, ease of use and portability.
5. Used to display important information – The QR codes can be used to scan important and useful information that interests the user. These can be things such as maps, images, product information, restaurant menus, demos and reviews, etc. QR codes may also be used in scanning videos or important information from leaflets, newspapers, etc.
Though QR codes are an excellent modern-day utility, there are loopholes and vulnerabilities as well. Let us now look at the security concerns that you may have with QR codes.
The digital world today is full of security issues and vulnerabilities and QR codes too may pose many threats and issues. These QR Code security risks can be listed as below:
Phishing – Hackers and cyber attackers may use QR codes to lead users to fake websites that are required to provide login details. As users login to the fake websites using their credentials, they accidentally end up providing their credentials to the cyber attackers thereby making their accounts vulnerable to fraud and other cyber-crimes.
Fraud – QR Codes that are used in advertisements may be leading to websites that look similar to an actual website but are not the real ones. In such websites, users may try to use the discount coupons and try making purchase by providing their credit card and other payment information that can be accessed by the hackers who can then use these cards to make fraudulent purchases and usage on these accounts.
Malware – Users scanning QR codes may end up following links that may lead to malware download. This malware can be secretly used to either spy on the user’s activity or may be used to steal sensitive data that is enough to do major harm to anyone falling prey to such tactics.
Malicious Emails – QR codes may prompt a user to send emails to malicious email addresses knowingly or accidentally. This may further lead to users expose to emails soliciting sensitive information which in turn increase the chances of users disclosing confidential information to hackers and cyber attackers.
Malicious Calls – Many times QR codes are used to scan and make Skype or direct calls to contact numbers. If the contacts that are called to are malicious in nature, they may abuse your contact information in a variety of ways which may compromise your account security and privacy.
Apart from that, the loss and theft of private and confidential data in any form can lead to serious issues such as account and identity theft which in turn can cause financial lost and unnecessary troubles to its victims. So, one must be careful. Hence ensuring QR code security is important and they are to be used in a manner that is safe. Let us look at some tips on using the QR codes safely.
Though you will be tempted to scan a QR code the moment you see it on an attractive advertisement or a poster, there are certain things to be aware of before scanning the QR codes. They are as follows:
1. You may see posters and advertisements in common public places with QR codes on them. They are of course meant to be scanned but scammers may simply paste their own QR code on an original banner or an advert. To be sure, you can check if the QR code is added or pasted on top of the poster and if it looks to be that way, never scan such a QR code. Also ensure that you are not scanning QR codes that are displayed in the form of stickers in public places as the chances of them being fake and malicious are high.
2. Always use a good QR code scanner app that first gives you some information about the content in the QR code than directly launching the application or the website. This ensures that you are opening something that you wish to see or you know that is safe. Such apps provide you with important information such as the nature of the content, the safety rating of the link, etc that eliminates the opening of any malicious links and websites. You can check out our article on QR code scanner app for more information.
3. If you see that the QR code is leading you to a website that is asking for personal information you will need to be more careful. Ensure that you first verify if the request made is legitimate and only then provide the information. You can check this by verifying the URL or accessing the website through a browser search than through the QR code directly. You should provide your information only after you are fully certain that you trust the app or the website.
4. Make sure that you have install mobile security applications such as antispyware, antivirus, and apps with web filtering capabilities so that you can protect your mobile device from any of the hacking activities that may occur without your knowledge.
QR code is an amazing utility with a wide range of applications. Having said that, it’s important to know about QR code security risks and vulnerabilities that QR codes are prone to. We believe this article have given you a full understanding on QR code security risks and also how you can use QR codes safely.
You can create your own QR codes with ease using our free QR code generator.
Credits for images use in this article ‘QR Code Security’