QR Codes: Security, Viruses and Malware

QR Code Security Threats

Avert your smart phone getting sick! QR code scans might lead you to a landing page infected with a virus or other malware. We know your smartphone is stuck to you like a third arm. You don’t have time for a mobile virus. You can’t imagine malware wiping your social contacts off the face of the earth or using your email to send your friends and family scams and pornography. And it’s likely to cost you money.

Currently, it’s not QR images themselves that are infected—it’s the URL that you click sending you to an infected landing page. The solution is simple. Don’t arbitrarily scan anything on the street. Scan trusted brands. Don’t download applications that you are unsure about. The up-and-coming problem is that QR code programming is open-source. When you’re in the public domain, you’re fair game.

Case in point—location, Russia, September 2011. Russian consumers scanned QR codes touting an Android application called Jimm. Those downloading Jimm got taken by surprise to find that the code’s malware sent SMS codes to a 900-like, premium phone number that charged premium rates per incoming message. According to Mashable Tech, it will take some time to develop applications that help you discern such security concerns. The Russian scheme was the first known QR code infection. You won’t know until it happens whether or not malware or a virus takes your smartphone for an annoying ride or a system wipeout. Play it on the safe side and be judicious scanning just any old QR code stuck on a bulletin board, electric pole or bus shelter.