Virgin Digital Help Virus Guide: QR Codes

Do you scan QR codes? They’re the square, pixelated symbols you may have seen in magazines, shops, restaurants and on products you’ve bought in shops. Scan them with your phone and you will be taken to a website, shown an image or linked to a video. Usually, these links, images and videos give you more information on whatever the QR code relates to. Sometimes, however, they can lead you to something more sinister altogether. 

Due to the fact that you can’t see what the QR code hides, it’s the perfect means for malware developers to get their software onto your device. The link the QR code takes you to could be for anything, and you wouldn’t know until it was too late. 

If you do scan something you shouldn’t, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained charges appearing on your bill
  • SMS messages being sent to premium numbers

You also risk malware stealing personal information and tracking your passwords and login details. 

You can safeguard yourself in a number of ways:

  • Always keep an antivirus program on your smartphone. There are a number of reliable programs from reputable brands around, so make sure you’re protected
  • Don’t scan QR codes that are just lying around. If they’ve been stuck on an advert or handed to you in the street, you have no way of knowing what they’re really for 
  • If something is downloaded, delete it immediately

QR codes are, essentially, pretty cool things. They provide an amazing link between offline and online, and can be programmed to lead pretty much anywhere. Make sure you stay safe, and you can have as much QR related fun as you like.