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Understanding and Countering QRishing – A Guide to Securing Enterprises from Deceptive QR Codes 

In recent years, the proliferation of Quick Response (QR) codes has become an integral part of business operations, offering a convenient and efficient way for companies to connect with their customers. Unfortunately, hackers also use QR codes in an attempt to steal private information, direct a person to a fraudulent website or install malicious software on a device. Over the past few months there has been a substantial increase in targeted phishing emails using QR codes, known as QRishing or Quishing. In this blog post, we delve into the risks QRishing poses for enterprises and the potential consequences that may arise. 


Corporate Data Theft 

One of the most significant threats enterprises face in the realm of QRishing is the potential for corporate data theft. QR codes, often used to facilitate quick access to websites, applications, or payment portals, can become gateways for unauthorised access to sensitive company information. Hackers may exploit vulnerabilities in QR code generation or manipulate codes to direct users to malicious sites, leading to the compromise of intellectual property, confidential data, and other proprietary information. 

Financial Losses 

QRishing poses a direct risk to a company’s financial health, with fraudulent transactions being a primary concern. Manipulated QR codes can deceive users into making transactions to unauthorised accounts or websites, resulting in financial losses for enterprises. Furthermore, cybercriminals may employ QRishing techniques to steal financial credentials, gaining access to corporate accounts and potentially causing significant monetary damages. 

 Reputational Damage 

The trust of customers and stakeholders is a cornerstone of any successful enterprise. QRishing incidents can erode this trust and inflict severe reputational damage. When customers fall victim to fraudulent QR codes associated with a particular business, it can lead to a loss of faith in the company’s ability to safeguard their interests. The negative impact on brand image can be long-lasting, affecting customer loyalty and deterring potential clients from engaging with the enterprise. 


Identity Theft 

QRishing not only poses threats to corporate data but also puts employees at risk of identity theft. Scanning malicious QR codes can expose personal information, leading to unauthorised use of personal accounts. Cybercriminals may exploit this data for various malicious purposes, including identity fraud, financial theft, and other forms of personal harm. 

Phishing Attacks 

Employees may inadvertently fall victim to phishing attacks initiated through QR codes. Cybercriminals can direct users to deceptive websites that mimic legitimate platforms, tricking them into providing sensitive information. Additionally, QR codes can be embedded with social engineering tactics, manipulating users into divulging confidential data or performing actions that compromise their own security. 

Device Compromise 

QRishing extends beyond data theft, with potential risks to employees’ devices. Scanning a compromised QR code can lead to the download of malicious software, exposing the device to security vulnerabilities. In more sophisticated attacks, cybercriminals may gain control over the employee’s device, further jeopardizing personal and professional information. 

How does a QRishing attack look like in your company?

Consider a scenario where an employee receives a seemingly innocuous QR code in a phishing email. Believing it to be work-related, the employee scans the code, unknowingly granting access to a malicious actor. This attacker then exploits the compromised access to infiltrate the company’s internal systems, leading to data breaches and potential financial losses.

What are the possible consequences faced by enterprises and individuals?

The consequences of QRishing incidents are far-reaching. For enterprises, the fallout may include legal repercussions, financial losses, and severe damage to reputation. On an individual level, employees may grapple with identity theft, compromised personal and professional accounts, and the associated emotional and financial tolls. 

How to prepare, prevent, and mitigate QRishing attacks on enterprises?

Employee Training 

One of the primary lines of defence against QRishing attacks is ensuring that employees are well-trained to recognise suspicious QR codes. Companies should implement comprehensive training programs that educate employees on the potential risks associated with scanning QR codes from unverified sources. Training should also include guidance on internal reporting procedures, empowering employees to report any suspicious activity promptly. This proactive approach enhances the overall cybersecurity awareness within the organisation. 

Multi-Factor Authentication 

To reduce the impact of compromised credentials resulting from QRishing attacks, the implementation of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is essential. By requiring an additional layer of verification beyond the QR code scan, such as a one-time password sent to a registered device, companies can significantly enhance security. This additional step acts as a deterrent to unauthorized access, even if QRishing attempts are successful in obtaining login information. 

 Regular Security Audits 

Conducting regular security audits that include QR code usage is imperative for identifying vulnerabilities and implementing necessary security measures. Enterprises should assess the QR code implementation across various processes, from marketing campaigns to internal operations. This audit should evaluate the security of the codes themselves, as well as the processes involved in creating and distributing them. By identifying and addressing potential weaknesses, organisations can stay ahead of evolving QRishing threats. 

QR Scanning and Advanced Technology Measures 

Choosing a secure QR code scanning app is crucial in mitigating the risks associated with QRishing. Enterprises should acquire the best and latest technology in preventing these risks within the enterprise’s digital ecosystem.  

Companies should also consider adopting a next generation integrated email security solution as many legacy email solutions, including M365 are unable to catch QR code threats. Feel free to contact us regarding email security solutions that leverage AI and can detect phishing links embedded in QR Codes and other more advanced image-based threats. 

For more information, please contact our cybersecurity professionals today.