QR Code Security: A Survey of Attacks and Challenges for Usable Security

  • Katharina Krombholz
  • Peter Frühwirt
  • Peter Kieseberg
  • Ioannis Kapsalis
  • Markus Huber
  • Edgar Weippl
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8533)


QR (Quick Response) codes are two-dimensional barcodes with the ability to encode different types of information. Because of their high information density and robustness, QR codes have gained popularity in various fields of application. Even though they offer a broad range of advantages, QR codes pose significant security risks. Attackers can encode malicious links that lead e.g. to phishing sites. Such malicious QR codes can be printed on small stickers and replace benign ones on billboard advertisements. Although many real world examples of QR code based attacks have been reported in the media, only little research has been conducted in this field and almost no attention has been paid on the interplay of security and human-computer interaction. In this work, we describe the manifold use cases of QR codes. Furthermore, we analyze the most significant attack scenarios with respect to the specific use cases. Additionally, we systemize the research that has already been conducted and identified usable security and security awareness as the main research challenges. Finally we propose design requirements with respect to the QR code itself, the reader application and usability aspects in order to support further research into to making QR code processing both secure and usable.


qr codes security hci usability 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharina Krombholz
    • 1
  • Peter Frühwirt
    • 1
  • Peter Kieseberg
    • 1
  • Ioannis Kapsalis
    • 1
  • Markus Huber
    • 1
  • Edgar Weippl
    • 1
  1. 1.SBA ResearchViennaAustria

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