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The QR code technology, driven in particular by the Covid-19 pandemic, continues to expand. However, despite their usefulness, QR codes raise crucial interrogations related to security and privacy issues. Indeed, this technology is not immune to cybercriminals.

What is the purpose of QR codes ?

In the 1960s, Japan experienced significant economic growth. Stores were selling a large quantity of products. During this period, cashiers still had to manually enter all the product references. As the work was tedious, many developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

To remedy this situation, barcodes were created. However, they were limited in terms of storage capacity. Denso Wave then designed a new type of barcode that could hold more information : the QR code.

The “quick response code” is a computer device in the form of a black and white square. The content is easily decoded using a smartphone. Typically, it contains a website address within the code. However, it can also contain information that, for example, speeds up the verification process during ticket checks.

QR codes find their usefulness in various situations where a quick reading of data is required. They can appear on posters, transportation tickets, or even on restaurant tables to access the menu.

How do QR codes impact society ?

For businesses, QR codes have become a significant asset, allowing them to optimize their operations. Indeed, they facilitate product promotion and customer data analysis. Moreover, QR codes provide an eco-friendly solution, reducing the need for paper.

Another significant advantage of QR codes is the ability to change their content even after they have been distributed online. This allows for real-time updates. This feature turns out to be valuable for businesses that want to update information or offers without having to create new codes.

Furthermore, QR codes have disrupted the way that people can access information, products, and services. By simply scanning an image, a person can now settle their balance using their mobile phone. In addition to being fast, this contactless technology promotes hygiene. It is for this reason that the use of QR codes has surged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

QR codes are very popular in the software industry. Companies like Amazon, Snapchat, and Instagram use them. This shows their interest in this technology.

Security and privacy concerns ?

This technology has become a potential target for cybercriminals. They can create malicious QR codes to direct users to infected websites. These attacks can have serious consequences, ranging from fraudulent product promotion to the installation of malware on users’ devices.

A notable case of a QR code attack comes from Russia. A poster encouraged people to scan a QR code to download an application. Once installed, the application sent messages to a premium-rate number without the user’s consent, resulting in unwanted costs.

Furthermore, when a QR code is scanned, personal information can be transmitted to a remote server. This may include geolocation and device model information. In accordance with data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe, companies must comply with laws governing the collection and use of data through QR codes. Users must be informed about how their data will be used and must have the opportunity to give their explicit consent.

Awareness of these privacy issues is crucial. To protect oneself against such threats, it is essential to adopt best practices. It is recommended to scan only QR codes from trusted sources, such as official websites and verified applications.


Master 2 Cyberjustice – Promotion 2023/2024

#QRcodes #Technology #Security #Privacy #Cybercriminality #Law

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A propos de Léane KASTNER

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