Use Caution When Scanning QR Codes by Carrie Kerskie

The no-contact approach as the result of the pandemic has increased the use of QR codes. These are the boxes filled with what appear to be blocks or dots. They are used for all sorts of situations such as to view the menu at a restaurant or to access information without having to touch anything except your smartphone. To use, you’d snap a picture of the QR code with your smartphone and it would take you to a website with the corresponding information.

The act of snapping a picture with your smartphone is where the risk lies. Criminals have used QR codes for years to trick consumers into installing malware on their smartphones. Trying to distinguish between a legitimate QR code and a malicious one by looking at it is difficult. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of snapping a picture of a malicious QR code.

Identify alternatives to using the QR code. Does the restaurant offer a printed copy of the menu? If so, use that instead.

Look for stickers. Often, criminals will use a sticker to place their malicious QR code over the legitimate one.

Do You Patch? If Not, You Could Be At Risk
The devices we use today rely on operating system software. Laptops, tablets, computers, smartphones, smart TVs and more. Heck, there are even smart dishwashers and light switches. As the manufacturers improve their products or need to fix bugs in the system, they will often send out updates through an operating system update. Sometimes these updates contain more than new features. Sometimes they are to patch a security vulnerability. Therefore, installing an operating software update is known as “patching.”

In years past, it was recommended to delay updating operating systems due to glitches, bugs, and other problems. Today, most of the time, these updates are primarily to patch security vulnerabilities. If the patch, or update, isn’t installed, the device remains vulnerable to hackers.

But patches aren’t limited to device operating systems. Apps often push out updates as well.

So, the moral of the story is – install operating system updates right away. This is especially true for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices used for sensitive activities like accessing bank accounts, paying bills, and sending or receiving sensitive information.

Here are tips to patching your devices:
1- Change your settings to automatically install operating system updates

2- Change app settings to automatically install updates

3- Periodically check your device, and apps, to ensure you are using the latest version

4- If a device is no longer supported by the manufacturer, such as Apple or Microsoft, then it’s time to upgrade your device. When a device is no longer supported, that means the operating system will no longer be updated leaving vulnerabilities unpatched.

Carrie Kerskie is a professional speaker on cyber awareness culture and identity fraud. She’s the president of Kerskie Group, providing white-glove identity fraud restoration and risk management for high-net-worth families and individuals. Carrie is also a member of the Collier Identity Fraud Awareness Community Task Force. If you have questions or would like assistance, contact Kerskie Group at 239-435-9111.

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