6 September 2022
QR or quick response code is a variation on the bar code. They track information and are popular in marketing and advertising. The original bar codes can only be read in a single direction, top to bottom. The QR code can be read in that same direction but also from right to left. It is comprised of different characters and can store significantly more information and track more data. Its square design makes it easily recognizable.
Most smartphones and some tablets have QR scanners built into the system, frequently into the camera. If you have an older phone, you may need to download an app, but they are easy to come by. It is basically a point and shoot operation. After you open the QR application, point the camera from any angle and the information will be downloaded. Almost immediately you will have the information or data on your screen.
The QR reader starts with the large squares on the perimeter so that it knows that it is really looking at a QR and not something else. Then on the interior of the square it separates white and black and then identifies the groups and larger patterns. You can find QR codes on products in department and grocery stores that provide information like components or special offers on the next purchase. Other businesses use them to keep track of inventory. Postal services around the world track packages. Some schools and colleges use it to help students find particular books or information.
QR codes are a faster way to direct potential customers (buyers) to a website than entering the URL. They can also move you directly to an item for purchase. They were instrumental in helping trace and reduce the spread of Coronavirus by issuing an alert if someone tested positive at that particular venue.
QR codes made a huge leap during especially the early days of the pandemic, when you could scan a code and, for example, read a restaurant menu and place an order, drive up and drive off. This limited touching items that others had been pawing and gave a measure of safety.
Warning! There are folks who are out to harm you. URLs can be embedded with customized malware to download data from your device. They are also used as phishing sites that will encourage you to provide personal or financial information. Because phones and tablets are less secure, the danger is greater. These QRs are in public view and sometimes are overlaid on legitimate codes. Your device is routed to a malicious site that can steal valuble data. In fact, the FBI has issued an alert about these criminal acts. Use your search engine to read more about this.
There are some protective measures you can use.
- Obviously, only scan from a trusted source. If there is an offer (too good to pass up) that offers you a cash bonus to use their code, it is probably not safe.
- Be sure the website is authentic by carefully checking the URL to make sure it is what you were expecting.
- Never enter personal information if you have any concerns.
As a business owner or manager, make sure the code available for scanning is the one you created and make regular checks to be sure no one has covered your QR with another sticker. You can also issue statements that will leave your customers feeling comfortable and remind them to avoid entering any personal information. Encourage any reports of maliciousness.