QR Code – safe way to scan them

AVG predicts malicious QR Codes will grow in number and calls that a “printed malware”.

When you scan them without having no idea what is that, or expecting something like email or maps but get an unknown shortened link instead, you have to be cautious. The QR Code scanner on the phone usually shows the link before opening it.

Having an extra security clearance would help.

How do you know the QR Code on the right is safe?

Safe way to scan and access the QR Code:

The QR Code shown in the top-right is safe, as you can see it is the same code above.

Norton Snap QR Code Reader

Norton Snap is a QR Code scanner and protector. The app is free on a limited beta. Not sure how much it is going to cost then.

It lets you immediately view, if the link points to a safe site and blocking when its Malware or fake site.

It expands the shortened URL to show you whats the expanded link is before loading it. Bit.ly or other URL shortened link would be expanded.

Scanning the code above, Norton Snap shows you if its safe or unsafe, the code links to qrstuff.com, a QR code related site, which is safe.

You can tap on the “Norton Rating” and it takes to a page on Norton site showing the summary if any issues with the site, or ratings if any etc…

You can get the Norton Snap for Android here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.symantec.norton.snap&hl=en

For IOS here – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/norton-snap-qr-code-reader/id471928808?mt=8

Unfurlr QR Scanner

It’s an Android app from the team that started as the online utility site where you expand the shortened URL before opening it, so it’s expected that their QR scanner takes care of the shortened URLs. The app is essentially a mashup of Barcode scanner and MyWOT look up.

On running the app, it prompts to run a safety scan of the URL that’s in the clipboard. This checks the link’s safety rating from the Web of Trust, mywot.com, which is a very trusted database.

The usual screen [image below] lets you start scanning, but unlike Norton Snap, you need to install Barcode App which also acts as the QR Reader, and as soon as you install Unfurlr it prompts you to automatically download Barcode app, so no need to install that manually. If you have that app already you can get started immediately.

So, let’s scan the QR code on the top-right side of this page, like we did with the Norton Snap. Clicking scan fires up the Barcode app which reads the code and copies it to the clickboard. It then prompts to run a scan report. The report from MYWOT is displayed as shown below,

While Norton Snap shows you Safe or Unsafe, Unfurlr shows you the trusted %, and break down of things like reliability, privacy and child safety. This is a good addition to Norton Snap, as it helps with any URL that you wish to know about its safeness not only limited to the QR code links.


It’s safe to know that the QR code you scan is safe. Knowing that is safe is worth the effort than getting attacked by malware which is something you don’t want to happen. Can’t imagine loosing contacts, photos, messages etc… to some malicious person.


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