What a terrible feeling we have when the blue screen of death pops up. Dotted with white letters, this uh oh screen can show up unexpectedly on any old Windows-using computer. Seeing this screen will make anyone think, did my computer just DIE?
To fix the problem, the infamous screen of death reads that we should close all programs that could have provoked the issue or restart the computer altogether (using Ctrl+Alt+Supr). If we are lucky, the issue will go away after following these steps, but most of the time it won’t be that easy.
Now, this oh-so-hated blue screen of Windows has had a face-lift, making it just as terrible but a little nicer to look at. The newest version on Windows 10 (out this summer) will display a sad emoticon and a QR code that will send you to a help area once it is scanned.
The bad news is that these two-dimensional codes, or more precisely the links they contain, can be very powerful tools for cybercriminals.
First, a cybercriminal could simulate that your computer has an error, and send your computer a fake “blue screen of death”. Then the criminal could add a QR code with a link that will take you to an unexpected and malicious website that will install drive-by malware on your computer.
If the cybercriminal wants to be very sly, they could design an entire website that looks like an official Microsoft one and use it to phish for log-in information and personal data. Uneducated computer users are the easiest victims for this type of trap.
The QR code that appears on the Screen of Death can be used for phishing or downloading malware onto your computer
But using QR codes to camouflage links is nothing new. The best way to protect yourself from this type of attack is to keep your guard up. Don’t scan a two-dimensional code without knowing where it will take you and if that website is a safe place.
To defend yourself against these kind of attacks, it is essential to have a good antivirus that will detect any kind of phishing or malware that is attempting to download on your computer.