Technology | 8 Minutes Reading
QR Codes in Daily Life with Its Importance, Usage, & Quishing Concerns
The omnipresence of QR codes in daily life is not hidden from anyone. Almost everyone has made contact with these black and white square tiles. Be it payment, reading menus, or validating tickets, there is hardly any sector that is able to keep the convenience of QR at bay.
This blog explores the various domains that have been invaded by these 2D dichromatic symbols. However, before we delve deeper into how these little pieces of technology got to play such a larger role in our lives, it’s better to rewind a bit. So let’s look back at some key events that shaped QR codes in their current form.
History Behind the Adoption of QR Codes in Daily Life
- Many may not know, but QR codes are not an invention of the 21st century. Denso Wave (a subsidiary of the Japanese giant Toyota) came up with the concept of using square-shaped tags to track automobile parts back in 1994.
- To replicate their success many other companies inside Japan began to adopt the practice throughout the latter half of the 1990’s. At the start of the millennium, the already established QR codes became standardized paving the way for worldwide adoption.
- Starting in 2002 a few phone companies began to include a built-in QR scanner. Initially seen as a mere gimmick soon consumers realized its variable use case.
- The smartphone boom combined with ever-reducing data prices in the 2010s made scanning QR codes easier and hence more widespread. Initially used for payments, it quickly made its way into wifi access and sharing contacts.
- Then came the 2020 pandemic, despite all the pain and trouble it caused. It is during the pandemic that QR codes became a symbol of safety and convenience. Thereby accelerating its integration into daily routines.
Now that we have covered the timeline of QR code evolution, it’s time to see the various use cases.
Top 5 Uses of QR Code in Different Arenas of Your Life
Pay for Goods and Services without Contact: The advent of QR codes made it possible to make transactions directly out of your mobile. Just point, scan, and validate. This ease makes it the first choice of payment nowadays. The absence of direct contact between the source and destination makes it more hygienic. Thus the term “contactless transaction.”
Information sharing like never before: Museums, Art galleries, Amusement parks, and Expo are some places where people will find QR codes. On scanning, they present an in-depth description of the item or the ride.
Personal Identification: Many nations nowadays use QR codes inside the digital identification cards of their citizens. These can be validated at security checkpoints easily with the help of a central repository connected at the backend.
Education: Books, tutorials, and other educational materials are now readily available in the form of QR codes. It adds a new dimension of learning for students. Teachers can also use them to easily share assignments.
Data Collection: Another arena where the QR codes in daily life get highlighted is data collection. Forms, questionaries, etc can be given in the form of QR codes post-purchase of a good or service.
Item Tracking: The delivery agent scans the QR code during item collection from the warehouse. And during item delivery to the customer. Creating a close loop for item tracking during delivery.
Now even wedding cards are using QR codes to share details. So let’s see what other industries have adopted it into their setup.
Other Common Uses of QR Codes in Everyday Life
Many restaurants now use a QR code instead of a physical menu card. So, real-time menu updation also becomes a reality. Moreover, unlike printing physical menus, updating digital data is quite cost-effective. More information about individual dishes is also available inside a digital menu made possible via QR codes.
Modern artists are pushing new boundaries by hiding QR codes inside their projects. Users can scan them, thus transforming a 2D figure into an entity inside augmented reality. They can get access to other works by the same artist and find their contact information as well. It also acts as a method of patronage for the artist.
Similarly, games like escape rooms and treasure hunts are becoming popular forms of entertainment. One factor that gives rise is the use of QR codes as a phase for completing an objective within the game. This sort of activity that combines technology with real-world experiences transforms the way we view entertainment.
Unlike physical notes, whose whereabouts are unknown once in circulation. The payments made online via QR codes are in plain view of the relevant authority. Moreover, it also eliminates the danger of forged banknotes by linking bank accounts directly. It also means that transactions leave footprints thus enabling efficient tracking. Making it extremely hard to dodge taxes.
This shows that there are not just 5 uses of QR codes but many more. However, QR codes are not without their downsides, so let’s look at them.
How QR Codes in Daily Life Pose Some Concern
Non-Human Readable Format: QR codes condense information into a small box, which makes it easier but at a cost. Anyone who lacks a smartphone is cut out of the system.
Erasure of Privacy: Payment tracking puts an ever-increasing amount of our private information into the hands of companies. Our consumer behavior and payment methods can be used to create a digital replica without our knowledge. With this, it becomes easier to send out advertisements that target us personally.
Use as a Trojan Horse: The prevalence and constant scanning of QR codes are now extremely common in even remote villages. As people can’t figure out what a QR code is without scanning it, cybercriminals use this vulnerability to their advantage.
The speed with which these tractions occur makes it difficult for small businesses to track and validate purchases. In worst cases, it can result in a loss of business.
Therefore, adding voice announcers to broadcast each payment is one strategy that many vendors have begun to employ to combat this vulnerability.
Even for an expert, distinguishing between a genuine QR and a fake QR is quite difficult So for the average Joe, it is downright impossible. As a precautionary measure, users should be aware and only scan QR codes that are genuine. Moreover, they should not download any unknown external files that appear after scanning a QR code.
What is Quishing and How to Stay Safe?
Quishing is a new type of scam that is getting popular thanks to the omnipresent Quick Response codes. It is a form of phishing that uses QR codes to infiltrate and steal information. Criminals can use this stolen information to commit cyber fraud.
Modus Operandi of a Quishing Scam
- An unsuspecting victim gets an email containing an embedded QR code from their favorite food delivery app or fashion apparel site.
- The email promises the user various coupons to get heavy discounts or early access to exclusive items.
- It asks them to scan the QR code.
- As the user’s entire focus is to get the discount coupon, they instinctively pull out their phone and scan the QR code.
- It takes them to a website resembling their favorite brand. Where the victim has to enter private details.
- Without thinking much, the user fills in all the information to get the discount coupons as soon as they can. The code they get is invalid. Even after repeated tries, they get the same result.
- So they contact customer care. There the company officially informs them that the company did not send any such email.
- It is only now that they realize that this whole setup was a scam. Now their personal information is in the hands of criminals.
The fact that makes this scam more dangerous than the rest is that the user is willingly providing all information.
More sophisticated scams may deploy viruses, malware, or ransomware in innocent-looking QR codes. Using which nefarious entities can take over the mobile devices of unsuspecting victims. Considering that smartphones are the single most important utility nowadays any damage done to their security is catastrophic.
Safety Precautions Against Quishing
- Smartphone manufacturers now include many safety features like disabling auto scanning etc. that prevent such a scenario. Moreover, users should always validate any giveaways by first searching for them.
- Once the official sources like the social media pages/news portals verify any such giveaway. After checking the domain address. That you should trust such a mail. Even then don’t put any critical information.
- Remember no discount is as valuable as your personal information. If you get even a hint of suspicion pause and close right there.
Note: Cybercrime investigations involving emails need the best email forensics tool. That’s why they are recommended to use MailXaminer. The utility has many law enforcement agencies as its long-standing users.
It has built-in features to bring out suspected emails and create links between the various entities involved. Use it to find emails sent by Quishers and reduce the Quishing scam. With provisions for both ediscovery and digital forensics, the tool is an ideal partner for all detectives to find the root cause of a cybercrime.
The convenience of QR codes in daily life is thoroughly covered in this write-up. We found how Quick Response codes came into being. Then this discussion proved how these symbols have moved way past payments and information sharing. However, we learned that this ever-increasing presence poses some threats like Quishing. We gave readers the methods to stay safe from such scams.