Beware the Box: That QR Code Could be Infected

Be careful before you swipe your cell phone!

By Scott Budman
|  Friday, Feb 10, 2012  |  Updated 11:44 AM PDT
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QR Codes Can Infect Your Cell Phone

Beware.QR Codes could be dangerous for your phone.

They look fuzzy, but it's becoming clear:  QR codes can be dangerous to your mobile phone.

You may be asking yourself, "what's a QR code?" It's a legitimate question.  But, you've probably seen them.  They're often attached to ads, or products, and they ask you to swipe your cell phone in front of them.  You're then connected to a website, to learn more about the product, or promotion.

We've seen this type of thing before.  A company once made a product, shaped like a cat (remember?  QueCat?) that you could swipe over similar codes.  Mercifully, it didn't catch on but smartphones make it even easier.

But there's a risk.  Uncovered by AVG Technologies, an Australian security company, which says the QR codes can be infected by malware.  If it gets inside your phone, it could force your phone to send expensive text messages, and could make it easy for hackers to access your personal data.

We write and talk about this all the time:  Your phone is a powerful computer.  But most of us don't protect out phones as well as we should.  Use common sense.  QR codes are fuzzy and  mysterious, and we should treat them that way.  It's easy to get to a website.  If you don't know what you're pointing your phone at, take the advice of security companies. Don't point.

Scott tries not to point.  He’s on Twitter:  @scottbudman

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