In an age where convenience and speed are important, QR codes have increasingly become a common part of our daily lives. However, this convenience comes with a new wave of threats – QR code scams, commonly known as “quishing.” With an increase in the nefarious use of QR codes by bad actors to infiltrate networks, it’s crucial to stay informed and vigilant.

Understanding QR Code Scams

A QR code scam, or quishing, is the fraudulent use of Quick Response (QR) codes to deceive individuals into giving up sensitive information or unknowingly installing malicious software on their devices.

Let’s review how QR code scams are commonly used.

Common Types of QR Code Scams

  • Phishing Email Attacks: Scammers embed QR codes in emails, leading to counterfeit websites aimed at harvesting your login credentials, personal data, or financial information.
  • Malware Distribution: QR codes can be a gateway for downloading harmful software onto your device, compromising your data and privacy.
  • Fraudulent Payment Requests: You may encounter QR codes directing you to make payments or donations to fake accounts or non-existent causes.
  • Package Scams: A deceptive package delivery notice can lure victims to a fraudulent website asking for personal details under the guise of package tracking.
  • Cryptocurrency Deceptions: QR codes may lead to fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes, such as fake investment opportunities or phony crypto giveaways that promise high returns.
  • Charity Impersonation: Scammers exploit people’s goodwill by impersonating legitimate charities, using QR codes to facilitate donations to their fraudulent accounts.

Preventive Measures Against QR Code Scams (Quishing)

While QR code scams are prevalent, there’s a few things you can do to avoid falling victim to these scams.

  • Source Verification: Before scanning a QR code received via email, text, or social media, verify the sender’s identity and the message’s legitimacy.
  • Guard Personal Information: Exercise caution if a QR code requests personal or financial information. Legitimate entities usually don’t ask for such details via QR codes.
  • Segregate Wireless Networks:  Have wireless devices such as phones that would scan QR codes and potentially get compromised connect to a separate wireless network at the office such as a Guest Network or “IOT” Network.
  • Direct Website Access: Instead of scanning QR codes, it’s safer to visit the intended website directly through its URL, particularly for sensitive transactions.
  • Regular Software Updates: Keeping your device’s software, apps, and security protocols updated can shield you from vulnerabilities exploited by scammers.
  • Trust Your Gut: If a QR code or the context in which you receive it seems suspicious, trust your instincts and refrain from scanning.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest quishing tactics and share this knowledge with friends, family, and colleagues to build a community-wide defense.
  • Use Security Apps: Install security applications that can scan QR codes for potential threats before you access their content.
  • Report Suspicious QR Codes:If you encounter a dubious QR code, report it to the relevant authorities or cybersecurity experts to prevent its spread.

Final Thoughts

The rise of QR code scams represents a significant shift in the landscape of digital deception. By staying informed, practicing safe scanning habits, and keeping security top of mind, you can navigate this modern convenience without falling prey to the hidden dangers of quishing. If you encounter any QR code that raises concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to cybersecurity professionals.