Consumer technology has changed globally since the COVID pandemic. The need for contactless transactions led to a prevalent use of Quick-Response (QR code) technology. But, the convenience and ease of QR codes aside, the excessive reliance of transactions on QR code technology came with the risk of new cyber threats.
How QR Code Technology is Misused
A QR code is a barcode that permits instant access to information using a digital device. It stores data as a series of pixels in a square grid. They are used to track details of products in supply chains. Consumer-based QR codes come with severe security threats to corporate systems and data. Cybercriminal groups exploit QR codes to compromise targeted devices and embezzle sensitive financial data.
Types of QR Code Attacks
Quishing attacks involve threat actors sending a phishing email with a malicious QR code attachment. Once the QR code is scanned, it directs the user to a phishing page. This phishing page then captures sensitive data like users’ login credentials.
Quick Response Code Login (QRL) is often used as an alternative to password-based authentication procedures. A QRL enables users to log in to their accounts by scanning a QR code. The QR code is encrypted with the login credentials of the user. In a QRLjacking attack, threat actors trick unaware users into scanning a false constructed QRL as opposed to the real one. Once the QRL is scanned, the device gets compromised, thereby allowing the attacker to take control over the device completely. Threat actors also entice users with a free Wi-Fi network that scans the QR Code. Some actors may also replace QR codes in public places with malicious ones that redirect users to phishing sites. Most fraudulent QR codes can evade traditional security detections with ease.
How to Prevent QR Code Attacks
Avoiding QR code scans is an unrealistic goal. Taking proactive measures, however, may help mitigate QR code technology-associated risks. Here is what you can do.
- Avoid logging in to an application or service using a QR code.
- Do not scan a QR code to receive money.
- Never initiate any payment if you are notified about putting any sensitive information after scanning a QR code.
- Avoid scanning random QR codes from unknown or suspicious sources.
- Do not scan QR codes that you receive via email from unknown sources.
- Make sure that the QR is original and not pasted over another one.
- View the URL using QR scanner software before clicking on it.
QR code attacks are increasing across the global threat landscape. New types of cyber threats are expected to make an appearance in 2022. Therefore, users should be wary of the risks involved and think twice before scanning their next QR code.