How to Tell if a QR Code is Safe or Not?

Written by Amit Agarwal on May 28, 2012

Girls scanning QR Code
Is that QR code pointing to a safe website?

Quick Response (QR) Codes make it easier for you to open web pages on a mobile phone without having to type the long URLs. Retailers put QR codes in print ads that customers can scan to learn more about the advertised product. Museums use QR Codes to offer more detailed information about exhibits.

Sometimes you may encounter QR codes at random locations – may be on a street pole – that you are often tempted to scan. It could hold a discount coupon for some retail store, maybe its part of some scavenger hunt or, in the worst case, it could be trick to direct you to a malicious website. How do you know if a QR code is safe or not?

Protect yourself from Bad QR Codes

Unfurlr, an online tool that helps you unmask the long URLs hiding behind short URLs, now offers a QR scanner app for both iPhone and Android mobile phones. Unlike other QR scanners, Unfurlr won’t just reveal the URL hidden inside a QR code but it also offers a security report suggesting if the underlying web site is safe or not.

You can use Unfurlr on your mobile to scan links found in email messages and chat messages for badware as well. Just copy the link to the clipboard, launch Unfurlr app and it will automatically offer you an option to scan the link available in the clipboard.

The app uses Web of Trust, an online database that offers reputation ratings for domain names, to determine problematic URLs. I wish it also supported, the same database that is used by Google and Mozilla to block harmful pages in your browser.

Here are some screenshots of the Unfurlr app in action.

scan QR code  QR Code Report

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