What are QR codes?
QR stands for “Quick Response. “While they may look simple, QR codes are capable of storing lots of data. But no matter how much they contain, when scanned, the QR code should allow the user to access information instantly – hence why it’s called a Quick Response code.
A QR code is a type of barcode that can be read easily by a digital device and which stores information as a series of pixels in a square-shaped grid. QR codes are frequently used to track information about products in a supply chain and – because many smartphones have built-in QR readers – they are often used in marketing and advertising campaigns. More recently, they have played a key role in helping to trace coronavirus exposure and slow the spread of the virus.
QR Code Full Form:
QR stands for “Quick Response.
The first QR code system was invented in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, a Toyota subsidiary. They needed a more accurate way to track vehicles and parts during the manufacturing process. To achieve this, they developed a type of barcode that could encode kanji, kana, and alphanumeric characters.
Standard barcodes can only be read in one direction – top to bottom. That means they can only store a small amount of information, usually in an alphanumeric format. But a QR code is read in two directions – top to bottom and right to left. This allows it to house significantly more data.
The data stored in a QR code can include website URLs, phone numbers, or up to 4,000 characters of text. QR codes can also be used to:
Link directly to download an app on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Authenticate online accounts and verify login details.
Access Wi-Fi by storing encryption details such as SSID, password, and encryption type.
Send and receive payment information.
And much more –
Types of QR code with example
QR codes can be used for multiple purposes, but there are four widely accepted versions of QR codes. The version used determines how data can be stored and is called the “input mode.” It can be either numeric, alphanumeric, binary, or kanji. The type of mode is communicated via the version information field in the QR code.
Numeric mode –
This is for decimal digits 0 through 9. Numeric mode is the most effective storage mode, with up to 7,089 characters available.
Alphanumeric mode –
This is for decimal digits 0 through 9, plus uppercase letters A through Z, and symbols $, %, *, +, –, ., /, and : as well as a space. It allows up to 4,296 characters to be stored.
Byte mode- This is for characters from the ISO–8859–1 character set. It allows 2,953 characters to be stored.
Kanji mode –
This is for double–byte characters from the Shift JIS character set and used to encode characters in Japanese. This is the original mode, first developed by Denso Wave. However, it has since become the least effective, with only 1,817 characters available for storage. A second kanji mode called Extended Channel Interpretation (ECI) mode can specify the kanji character set UTF–8. However, some newer QR code readers will not be able to read this character set.
How do I scan QR codes?
Most smartphones have built-in QR scanners, which are sometimes built in the camera. A QR scanner is simply a way to scan QR codes.
Some older devices may require a particular app to read QR codes – these apps are readily available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Step that will help you to Scan a QR code using your device.
Open the QR reader application or the camera on your smartphone.
Point it at the QR code – you should be able to point your camera from any angle and still receive the necessary information.
The data will be instantly shown on screen – for instance, if the QR code contains contact details, your phone should instantly download these.
Are QR codes safe?
Attackers can embed malicious URLs containing custom malware into a QR code which could then exfiltrate data from a mobile device when scanned. It is also possible to embed a malicious URL into a QR code that directs to a phishing site, where unsuspecting users could disclose personal or financial information.
Because humans cannot read QR codes, it is easy for attackers to alter a QR code to point to an alternative resource without being detected. While many people are aware that QR codes can open a URL, they can be less aware of the other actions that QR codes can initiate on a user’s device. Aside from opening a website, these actions can include adding contacts or composing emails. This element of surprise can make QR code security threats especially problematic.
A typical attack involves placing malicious QR codes in public, sometimes covering up legitimate QR codes. Unsuspecting users who scan the code are taken to a malicious web page which could host an exploit kit, leading to device compromise or a spoofed login page to steal user credentials. Some websites do drive-by downloads, so simply visiting the site can initiate a malicious software download.
Mobile devices, in general, tend to be less secure than computers or laptops. Since QR codes are used on mobile devices, this increases the potential risks.
Can someone hack a QR code?
The actual QR Codes themselves can’t be hacked. This is because they are built using a square matrix with pixelated dots so these dots would have to be changed in order to be “hacked.” QR Code technology is not a security risk alone. The security risks associated with QR codes derive from the destination of QR codes rather than the codes themself.
There are no references and you may encounter a malicious QR code. That’s why it’s important to use a QR Scanner that you know you can trust and not download randomly in the app store or online. Use a scanner that provides QR code verification and warns you of possible risks behind the QR code.