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What Are QR Code Scams (Quishing)?

Nov 10, 2023

By: Paul Breitenbach

Blog Author

Paul Breitenbach is the CIO of CompassMSP.

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QR codes have become a common sight, making our lives more convenient in many ways. We've seen an uptick recently in the number of bad actors trying to use QR codes to infiltrate networks. It's important to be aware of potential scams associated with QR codes and how to protect yourself.  

What is a QR Code Scam? 

QR code scams involve the fraudulent use of QR codes to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information or installing malicious software on their devices. 

Common types of QR code scams 

  • Phishing Email Attacks: Scammers create QR codes that lead to fake websites designed to steal your login credentials, personal information, or financial data.  
  • Malware Distribution: QR codes can trigger the download of malicious software onto your device.  
  • Fake Payment Requests: Scammers can send QR codes that prompt you to make payments or donations to fake accounts.  
  • Package Scams: A suspicious package comes in the mail, asking for personal information on a website.  
  • Cryptocurrency Scams: “Giveaways” offer double the crypto if you pay the first installment, while other bad actors ask for you to invest by paying in. 
  • Donation Scams: Scammers impersonate a legitimate charity to steal money or credit card information.  

How can you avoid falling victim to QR code scams? 

  • Verify the Source: If you receive a QR code from an email, text message, or social media, verify the sender's identity and the message's authenticity before scanning it. 
  • Don't Share Personal Information: Be cautious when a QR code asks for personal or financial information. Legitimate websites and apps typically do not require this through a QR code. 
  • Go Directly to the website URL: QR codes are convenient ways to get to information on a site, but it’s more secure to go directly to the website you’re looking for information on rather than scanning a code. 
  • Keep Software Updated: Ensure your device's operating system, apps, and security software are up to date to protect against vulnerabilities that scammers may exploit. 
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, trust your instincts, and avoid scanning the QR code. 

By staying vigilant and informed, you can protect yourself from falling victim to QR code scams. If you have any concerns or questions about a QR code you've encountered, please reach out to your cybersecurity expert. 

For expert advice or to answer questions about the appropriate cybersecurity actions for your organization, please contact us here. One of our CompassMSP cybersecurity experts will be happy to discuss your needs. 

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