5 Ways Scanning QR Codes Can Expose You to Security Threats

Updated October 6, 2023

The software behind QR codes, also known as “square codes” or “kiu-ar codes” makes it easy to retrieve information without visiting the internet or using a search engine like Google.

To retrieve the information you require, all you must do is place the camera lenses of your phone right on the square matrix. If you place the camera on the QR code, you can quickly and easily access information about anything.

Because of the exponential growth in the usage of QR codes in recent years, hackers frequently use them to propagate any virus or steal personal data.

According to the blog post, Asia dominates QR-based transactions, and scan-to-pay transactions in China have surged by 26% since 2021. With such an amount of QR code scans, it is vital to allow its users to know the threats of the QR codes.

This tutorial will provide 5 ways scanning QR codes can express you to security threats.

How Do QR Codes Work?

It is known to be a two-dimensional matrix code called a QR code that arranges data in dots which is usually organized in a square grid.

Using your phone’s camera or by using a QR code reader application, users can read this code.

QR codes are the abbreviation of Quick Response codes. It was created as a workaround for the drawbacks of conventional barcodes.

Because QR codes can be read horizontally or vertically, they can contain a lot more information in just one code than barcodes, which are only able to take up data which is in one dimension, and they can only be scanned in just a line.

Why are QR Codes So Beneficial?

Information can now be arranged in limited spaces without being constrained by QR codes. However, there are additional benefits to using a QR code, such as sharing your contact information, using WhatsApp on the desktop, and reducing the cost of promoting an occasion, good, or service.

Numerous companies also employ QR codes to affix verifiable e-certificates to the products that they sell.

The Scanning Direction Is Not Important

QR Code Scanning Direction

Users of QR codes are not required to scan the QR code in a certain way. Any angle could be used to read or scan the code by a camera without compromising the information or speed.

Because QR codes feature unique position-detecting patterns placed as the matrix’s three corners, they may be read in any direction.

Adaptable to Data Loss

QR Code Data Loss

It is feasible to read and get data from a disrupted QR code. There are various methods for this, but thanks to modern technology (error correcting algorithms), QR codes can still be read even if 30% of the code is disrupted, missing, or hidden.

It is difficult to achieve this level of mistake correction with the bar codes without losing data. Due to their nature, QR codes are especially helpful in industries and outdoor settings.

2D Data Arrangement

QR Code 2D Data

QR codes can store a lot of o details and information. Because QR codes are basically 2D, more data may be stored both horizontally and vertically. Barcodes, in contrast, limit the quantity of data which can be held in the barcodes by storing it in vertical bars.

5 Potential Security Threats of Scanning the QR Codes

Even though QR codes are beneficial, their layout puts them at risk of exploitation and  potential security threats, especially when scanning QR codes from shady sites.

1. Your Location May Have Been Invaded

QR Code Location Tracking

You will be aware of the value of scanning the QR Code of google maps if you’re running late and want to find a location very quickly.

But scanning a QR code may automatically gather and disclose your exact location to a third party, infringing on your right to privacy regarding where you are.

2. Attacks By Phishers

QR Code Phishing Alert

Phishing, often also called “QRishing,” can occur in many ways when scanning a QR code.

For instance, scanning a code may lead your web browser to a URL that seems related to an online store or bank, where you will be prompted to enter your password or email address to log in.

Since many bogus websites look so convincing, you might not initially suspect anything is wrong. Several of them even have URLs that appear to be authentic at first glance.

A scammer accesses your login information as you get into these websites. The scammer could then get to your account using that data.

3. Attacks of Malware

Malware Attacks due to QR Code

The logos of applications like the App Store or Google can be easily used by scammers to create QR codes they can paste wherever they want.

This can lead your device to perform functions on its own such as installing any app from a corrupted or fake site. Such methods may unknowingly put malware into the device.

4. Your Personal Details Might be Accessible to Third Parties

After you scan a QR code, your phone can potentially dial a number or automatically send a message. Your phone number is shared in this way with a third party.

It might seem that phone numbers are unimportant, but a lot of your personal information is associated with your mobile number than you would know.

Anyone can utilize web resources to find out who owns a phone number, which includes the full name or address, social network accounts, and other publicly accessible data.

5. The dangers of using free Wi-Fi or sharing access to networks

Scan QR Code

Since it’s so simple to tamper with the QR code menus or the Wi-Fi hotspots in public locations like malls and cafes, these QR scammers frequently target these establishments.

Although linking up to an open network every time entails some danger, QR codes make this all simpler for con artists to disappear and do more harm.

Cybercriminals frequently create phony Wi-Fi hotspots using titles that mimic the networks of public locations that one would connect to.

If you pay great attention to the network title, you can usually spot this scam. In contrast, using a QR code to connect to the network, you couldn’t watch out for warning indicators.

How to Prevent Security Threats from QR Codes

You may take steps to prevent or stop the possible security threats posed by scanning a QR code, which can compromise your personal security. So it is vital to let users know the threats of the QR codes.

1. Do Not Scan Arbitrary QR Codes.

Avoid getting every QR code scanned from arbitrary websites or unreliable online pages. However, one of the most popular methods hackers use to scam victims is social engineering which compromises the privacy of individuals.

2. Install a Virus Detecting Program for Extra Security

An antivirus program can warn you as you get on the wrong site, such as a phishing website, or prevent malware from being downloaded onto your computer. Many good anti-virus applications are available for Android and iPhone users.

3. Disable Live Location

You can track down a missing phone or even set reminders for tasks that you wish to complete whenever you want by keeping the location on, on your device. Your smartphone, however, compiles a list of the places you’ve gone. If your phone gets missing, a hacker can easily have access to the location.


Information and other important details sharing are quick and simple with QR codes, but of course, there are potential risks.

Users can be manipulated by cybercriminals, and they can end up giving their money or access to personal details to them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which QR scanning application is the safest to use?

Your phone with a camera application is the safest to use while scanning QR codes. Apps with QR scanning capabilities may not be secure because they could be infected with phishing or even malware scams.

How does the QR code function and what exactly is it?

QR codes are machine-scannable visuals that a smartphone camera lens can read instantly. Numerous dark squares and dots that stand in for various bits of information make up each QR code. Your smartphone will transform the data as it reads this code into a piece of information that human beings can understand.

Is there a Google QR code maker for free?

To create a QR code for free for a page you would like to share, utilize the Chrome mobile application. However, remember that Google doesn't provide any standalone QR code generation services, so be suspicious of any such businesses that claim to be affiliated with Google.

What does QR stand for?

The acronym QR, which stands for "quick response," expresses the high-speed reading-focused development idea for the code.

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