Warning for Aussies over QR code, COVID-19 vaccination scams

Thursday, 14 January, 2021

Warning for Aussies over QR code, COVID-19 vaccination scams

With continuing COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia, individuals and businesses have been urged to be aware of cyber threats around QR codes and potential vaccination online scams.

QR codes have seen an increase in usage due to COVID-19, allowing users to check in to businesses for contact tracing. However, Avast is urging Australians to be aware of cyber threats that can occur when using QR codes.

Luis Corrons, Avast Security Expert, warns that although the government apps have done a good job at keeping users’ data private, non-government websites that users may be directed to may not be as secure.

“We are also seeing a comeback of QR code scams because Australians have become complacent around scanning QR codes and providing their details to any website to enter premises, and scammers are taking opportunity of this,” said Corrons.

QR codes can lead users to fraudulent websites set up by scammers to capture your personal information or install dangerous fake ‘tracking’ apps that include malware. Corrons urges Australians to only scan QR codes, including restaurant menus, in prominent locations or as directed by business staff. Australians are also urged to only download government tracking apps directly from government websites.

“If the business isn’t providing a check-in option through government apps, then only provide the minimum amount of personal information required and, if you want to be extra cautious, ask the business about their privacy policy around how your information will be stored and used,” said Corrons.

Australians should also consider establishing a separate email address to use specifically for COVID-19 check-ins to protect your personal or work email from being spammed or leaked through a data breach.

Avast has also warned of upcoming online scams around COVID-19 vaccinations. These scams can be presented to users via fake shops and ads on social media.

“If people see vaccination offerings circulating on the internet, they need to keep in mind that the sale is likely too good to be true, as vaccinations should be distributed through official sources only. Instead of falling for shady scams, people should trust their local doctors and medical institutions for COVID-19 information and vaccinations,” said Corrons.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Buffaloboy

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