Watch Out for the Latest Phishing Threat – QR Code Phishing

Watch Out for the Latest Phishing Threat - QR Code Phishing

Phishing attacks continue to be a persistent and sophisticated menace. Fifty-eight percent of Canadian companies received phishing emails in 2021, and it’s estimated that 91% of all cyberattacks are initiated by dangerous emails.

As users become more vigilant about recognizing traditional phishing emails and malicious links, cybercriminals are quick to adapt and develop new techniques to exploit unsuspecting victims. One such emerging threat that demands our attention is QR code phishing.

The Rise of QR Code Phishing

QR codes, originally designed for convenient data transfer, have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. From restaurant menus to event tickets, QR codes are used for various purposes, making them an ideal tool for cybercriminals seeking new avenues for phishing attacks. QR code phishing involves manipulating these seemingly innocent codes.

A malicious actor may create a fake QR code that leads to a phishing website or downloads malware onto your device. They may then print the QR code on a sticker and place it over a legitimate QR code in a public place, such as a poster, a flyer, or a product label. Alternatively, they may send you the QR code via email, text, or social media, pretending to offer you something of value or interest.

If you scan the fake QR code, you may be redirected to a website that looks like the real one but is actually designed to steal your information or infect your device. 

For example, you may see:

  • A login page that asks you to enter your username and password for your online account. 
  • A pop-up message that prompts you to update your software or install an app. 
  • An error message that asks you to call a phone number for technical support.

How QR Code Phishing Works

Malicious QR Codes

Cybercriminals create QR codes that, when scanned, direct users to fraudulent websites designed to mimic legitimate ones. These websites often aim to trick users into entering personal information, such as login credentials or financial details.

Social Engineering Tactics

QR code phishing often employs social engineering tactics to deceive users. For example, a malicious QR code could be presented as part of a fake promotion, survey, or discount, enticing users to scan without suspicion.

Credential Harvesting

Once on the fraudulent website, users might be prompted to enter their credentials or personal information. Unbeknownst to them, this sensitive data is harvested by cybercriminals for nefarious purposes, including unauthorized access to accounts and identity theft.

Recognizing QR Code Phishing

As QR code phishing gains traction, it’s crucial for users to be vigilant and adopt best practices to avoid falling victim to these attacks. Here are some tips on recognizing and mitigating the risks of QR code phishing.

1. Scrutinize the Source

Be cautious when scanning QR codes, especially those received via email, messaging apps, or from unknown sources. Verify the legitimacy of the source before scanning to reduce the risk of falling victim to a phishing attack.

2. Check the URL

After scanning a QR code, double-check the URL before entering any information. Legitimate websites use secure and recognizable URLs. If the website address seems suspicious or differs from what you expected, exit the page immediately.

3. Use a QR Code Scanner with Security Features

Opt for QR code scanners that come with security features. Some scanners have built-in mechanisms to identify and warn users about potentially malicious codes. Research and choose a reputable QR code scanner app for your device.

4. Avoid Unverified QR Codes

Refrain from scanning QR codes from unverified sources or those shared on untrusted websites. Cybercriminals often exploit these channels to distribute malicious QR codes, aiming to catch unsuspecting users off guard.

5. Update Security Software

Regularly update your device’s security software to ensure it includes the latest threat intelligence. Security software can provide an additional layer of protection by detecting and blocking malicious QR codes.

6. Use a DNS Filter on Your Mobile Device

QR codes are typically scanned using a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet. Make sure you have a security feature called DNS filtering enabled on your device’s default browser. DNS filters warn you of known phishing or seemingly unsafe websites before you land on them.

7. Educate Yourself and Others

Stay informed about the latest phishing techniques, including QR code phishing. Educate yourself and those around you to recognize the signs of phishing attempts and the importance of exercising caution when scanning QR codes.

QR codes are useful and convenient tools for accessing information and services. However, they can also be used by cybercriminals to lure you into their traps. By being vigilant and cautious, you can avoid falling prey to QR code phishing and keep your data and device safe.

Is Your Company Properly Protected from Phishing Attempts? 

All it takes is one mistaken click for an employee to invite malware into your network. Don’t leave your company at risk. Haxxess can help your Northern Ontario business with automated security solutions to keep your network protected.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation! Call 705-222-8324 or reach out online.

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