Quick-response (QR) codes are nothing new, and are often found on restaurant menus, web pages, magazines and other marketing materials. Their convenience and novelty drove their popularity, because they quickly direct potential customers to websites, send messages, download apps and direct people to social media pages. 

They are also useful for e-commerce, shopping and viewing business locations. Yet like every other widely-accepted technology, increased usage can lead to increased cybersecurity risks. 

QR Codes and Cybersecurity Threats

Users quickly scan QR codes without thinking twice, and since it’s hard for most people to discern the differences in the images they can easily be fooled. In essence, there are no visual checks for determining when codes are questionable. 

The codes can direct users to dangerous places, like malicious links or attachments. There are also apps out there that claim to be QR scanners, but these can also pose threats –  using your phone’s camera is safest.

How can QR codes provide cybersecurity risks to businesses, though? Unfortunately, criminals are always looking for new ways to bait employees, and they can send bad QR codes out to them in emails. 

A newer scheme is to put a false QR code sticker on top of a legit one; it is impossible for a lay person to notice the difference. A seemingly innocent code can lead to a major data breach – these are called “quishing attacks,” and they could cost your company millions of dollars.

Training Employees About QR Codes

Cybercriminals always try to stay one step ahead of the game and are very good at it. They manage to steal trillions of dollars from businesses each year, and your Albany, NY IT provider should be able to keep pace (and have a lead!) on these scammers. 

It is not possible to know exactly where a QR code will take a user once it is scanned, and this can be compared to driving off an unmarked exit ramp and ending up in a very dangerous city without a GPS. If your business doesn’t have updated, comprehensive security plans in place, it could be disastrous. A key feature of a sound IT security plan is regular, consistent employee training. 

Make sure that your employees are trained to be on the lookout for QR codes in company emails. They should never download apps from these codes. 

It is always safer to go to the app store to do it from there. You may want to employ company rules that prohibit clicking on these codes, too; employees can be instructed to alert your IT provider should they encounter any in the network.

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A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

If your business does not have an ongoing security awareness program that provides employees with fresh, relevant information, the risk of a data breach increases significantly. While having an IT employee from your company teach staff members about things like dangerous QR codes can help, engaging an outside Managed Services Provider (MSP) is better. 

Trying to address a network issue or data breach on your own after the fact can be very overwhelming and expensive, so a proactive approach is the best way to approach cybersecurity. Your hardware needs to be stable at all times, and having a first line of defense for threats will keep your infrastructure safe and sound.

The first step towards achieving this goal is to set up a free cybersecurity risk assessment from TAG Solutions. Our team of experts will analyze your network and determine if the setup is up-to-date and offering peak performance. 

Just as importantly, we can evaluate your backup and disaster recovery plans to see how well they might hold up in the face of a malicious attack. If you don’t have these already set up, we can help you with that, too. The sooner you contact us, the better your chances of staying protected.