1.10.2013

Forbes Article on Rouge QR Codes

On Forbes.com, there's an article titled "When QR Codes Go Rouge," which talks about how a QR Code can be hacked and, if scanned, it can lead a person to a malicious website or wreak havoc with the workings of a person's mobile phone. While this topic has been talked about before, and it's certainly one worth taking note of, there is one paragraph in the article that I just don't understand. Granted, I'm not a technologist, and maybe what the author writes is correct, but it just sounds off to me.

The paragraph in question reads as follows: "So how do you protect yourself from rogue QR Codes? Be careful about the apps you install on your smartphone. Stick with the major apps. Check reviews. Be skeptical. Consider online tools, like Unfurlr, that show the long URLs hiding behind short URLs and provide a security report assessing the safety of the underlying web site." Um, question, what do apps have to do with a rouge QR Code? I would think the best way to guard against a rouge QR Code is to not scan a code that might appear on paper or a package or a sign, etc. that looks tampered with (i.e., a label placed on the paper, package or sign, etc., over the code and looks out of place, meaning not of the original format).

Similar to junk email, consumers need to learn about and understand the difference between an authentic and non-authentic QR Code, and maybe it's up to advertisers using codes, or others in the mobile industry (e.g., Mobile Marketing Association, etc.), to help educate and lead this charge. To do so, I can only imagine that it would help all involved in a positive manner. Or, perhaps there is verbiage that can accompany a code, which helps to indicate to consumers that it's authentic.

Any thoughts?  

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