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May 31, 2012 / carlispina

Check for Malicious Links and QR Codes with Unfurlr

Shortened links and, to a lesser extent, QR codes have become a ubiquitous part of web use over the last several years. However, both shortened links and QR codes can pose a problem since viruses and other malicious programs can be hidden behind either one. Unfurlr from MailChimp Labs solves this problem by letting users peak behind the shortened link or QR code they see. For shortened URLs, Unfurlr shows the full link, how they got there (including user agent information and content analysis) and a full report on the safety of all of the links found on the page and in its scripts. The service works quickly and provides a fairly detailed summary of all the information you could want to know before deciding whether to follow a suspicious link.

However, in my opinion, the new Unfurlr app that tests the reliability of QR codes is even more impressive. Available for both iOS and Android devices, this app runs a report on any QR code that is scanned. The report shows not only the destination of the QR code, but also an analysis of that domain including ratings for trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety. If, based on this information, the user wants to visit the site, Unfurlr offers a link directly to the website. I found the scanning feature to work better than most QR scanners I have used. When I first tried the app, it successfully scanned a QR code at an angle before I had even lined it up with my phone’s camera. I also found that for most websites it provides an informative report that gives users confidence to click through to the website (or not, as the case may be). However, for at least some QR codes and URLs, I did find that Unfurlr was unable to produce a useful report. While no apps can provide complete protection from viruses and malicious code at this point, Unfurlr is an impressive option for testing both shortened URLs and QR codes before possibly following them to an insecure or malicious website.

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