Restaurant menu

QR codes for restaurant menus and the risks to your privacy

A menu linked to a QR code is displayed on a smartphone. ((Photo by Aurélien Meunier / Getty Images)

FOX Business’s Kurt Knutsson, known as The CyberGuy, joined FOX Business’s “Mornings with Maria” and discussed the risks and privacy concerns that can come with QR code menus, which many restaurants have adopted. to replace paper menus in the midst of the pandemic.

KURT KNUTSSON: Chances are you’ve never thought about what’s in between your food and the QR code menu you used to order in many restaurants. These QR code menus were hardly ever seen until 18 months ago. This pandemic has changed everything. Shared menus have been replaced by pointing your phone’s camera at a QR code. He opens the restaurant’s website to display the menu. Other QR codes are tied to sophisticated systems that also take orders and bill customers. Great.

Well, actually, a QR code can be programmed to bind to anything, and that’s where the privacy concerns come in. When it comes to restaurants, in many cases the QR code you just pulled is already following you. They can unknowingly track customers with when, where and how often you scan. QR code systems can enable cookies to track your purchase history, by entering your name, phone number and credit cards into databases. And in some cases, this data is offered to other establishments and you did not know it. The problem here is that the vast majority of QR code systems don’t have clear privacy controls for consumers to opt out. Now, QR code usage is unlikely to slow down, even after people learn how their data can be manipulated. Customers simply appreciate the speed and ease of use of QR codes. And after all, the letters “QR” come from a quick response.

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Restaurants see the benefits of their bottom line here. QR code menus reduce labor costs by 30-50% since servers do not need to take orders. Payments track customer orders to get a better understanding of what’s on the menu is a big benefit to the restaurant and up-selling offers based on the history of what we’ve ordered is a huge success for restaurants as well. Fifty percent of full-service restaurants in America today have been using QR-coded menus since the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.

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Now, as food ordering makes QR codes more popular, hackers are thinking about new ways to trigger all kinds of problems, like misuse of QR codes, linking you to malware to launch, for example. , a ransomware attack. My best advice here – don’t point your phone at a QR code if you don’t know where it’s coming from if it’s not a trusted source. For example, don’t take the bus and say, “Hey, there was someone who said 10% off – I’m going to click on that” because then it could go anywhere and in a place really. ugly.

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