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Published May 18th 2013
You probably have seen a lot of these square images around (as seen on the bus). In short, this is a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. It is a two dimensional bar code comprising of square dots around a square grid.
QR Codes can be used anywhere
The QR code was original designed in 1994 by Toyota to keep track of their manufacturing process. However, because of its great storage capacity, the QR code is found to be used outside of this medium. All you need is a camera with software that you can download from your "App Store" to read any of these codes.
There are many software applications out there that allow anyone to create a QR code. However, malicious QR codes combined with a permissive reader can put a computer's contents and user's privacy at risk. This practice is known as "attagging". They are easily created and can be affixed over legitimate QR codes. Many online companies that offer the opportunity to create a QR code for free use this type of process so that anyone scanning the code will be taken to a number of other sites outside of the one they were intending to scan for. On a smartphone, the reader's permissions may allow use of the camera, full Internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, read browser history, read/write local storage, and global system changes.
While it sounds very scary, there are systems in place to ensure that people are not taken advantage. Many companies that use QR codes ensure that they do exactly what they were created for.
GrapevineQR is a company that focuses on creating QR codes for businesses wanting to promote a product or service. Their QR codes are genuine and contain no malicious viruses. They allow people who scan them to receive vouchers/coupons as well as direct them to a Facebook page of the business that using their QR codes for promotion.
Adrenaline Gym using QR codes to advertise specials
If you happen to scan in a code that takes you to a range of different sites it is a good idea to notify the company (whom the QR code is for) and let them know. Sometimes businesses do not know that the QR code they used is faulty.