QR codes are becoming a habit, but raising concerns

Will the pandemic mark the global advent of codes QR, these pictograms read like bar codes by the cameras of our portable devices? As the pandemic pushes to reduce contact as much as possible, technology may be living its heyday. But the international press questions its reliability.

You’ve seen them before, but since when have you been using them? The codes QR, these pictograms which work like bar codes to be scanned with the camera of portable devices, would finally know their advent due to the health crisis.

Two-thirds of the Chinese population were already using them in 2017, according to South China Morning Post, but the codes QR (QR for “quick response”, or “quick response”) had never really found an audience outside of Asia. Born in 1994 in Japanese laboratories, the technology has long been considered unnecessary. However, it has experienced a peak in use since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, notes the American site Quartz :

After a decade of mockery and rejection, the codes QR – these little black and white squares that you scan with your phone to display a website – are finally experiencing their heyday.

“The key to a safe return to business”

In this strange period when you shouldn’t touch anything, the codes QR offer timely service to read restaurant menu or make contactless payment. From October 19, they will also be used by Russian night owls to check in at the entrance of bars and nightclubs, report The Moscow Times. “In the event that one of the visitors is diagnosed positive for the coronavirus, the system will allow us to quickly notify all the others”, explains the Russian news site.

Australian companies will soon be encouraged to use a code system. QR developed directly by the State, writes theAustralian Financial Review. The device, presented by the review as “The key to a safe return to business”, has already been tested in the towns of Dubbo and Sidney. It should make it possible to facilitate and secure remote exchanges between companies and their customers.

Reliable technology?

The use of this technology, however, raises the reluctance of certain specialists in new technologies. The magazine Forbes has published several articles which warn of the potential dangers of this technology. One of them lists the different reasons why smartphone users should boycott codes QR.

Among other risk factors, reading a code QR could initiate a call to a predefined number, keep information saved on the phone, save the user’s location coordinates or even redirect them automatically to a site with unwanted content, potentially containing malware. And Forbes prevent :

If you are ever on the move and see a code QR on a wall, a building, a computer screen or even a business card, do not scan it! Indeed, a cybercriminal can easily paste his code QR malicious on real code and create its own copies, and it is impossible to know whether the content is safe or malicious based on appearance. ”

In another article, the magazine relays a study by the software company MobileIron resulting from interviews with more than 2000 users. According to the study, 71% of respondents cannot distinguish a code QR reliable code QR malicious. And nearly 17% say they have already been referred to a suspicious site.

Serge Hastom

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