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Norway Journalists Endanger Use of QR Codes in Court Access IDs


We have talked about the possibility of abuse when using quick response codes. And almost all the time, these talks have centered around one thing: the use of QR codes to hide malicious or potentially harmful sites and malware.

However, there is another possible form of QR code abuse, one that could arise from publicizing a QR code online. Certain journalists in Norway show us how.

Days before the trial of Anders Behring Breivik was set to start, some Norwegian journalists who are authorized to cover the proceedings publicized their court access cards on the Internet.

For those who do not know, Breivik was the self-confessed perpetrator of the 2011 Norway bombing, which killed 69 people.

The journalists’ move raised concern from the Oslo police as the access cards not only consist of the bearer’s photo, organization, profession, and birth date, but also a QR code that security guards at the Oslo District Court scan in order to allow entry.

According to reports, some of the journalists uploaded an image of their access cards on their Facebook profiles. However, writers for trade publication Journalisten took photos of these images and published them on the magazine’s website through a picture series.

What does this implicate?

The journalists’ move means that the access cards can now be replicated. All one needs to do is obtain a copy of the access card, replace the original bearer’s photo and other details, and keep the QR code in order for the new bearer to gain entry.

Needless to say, this constitutes a possible security breach. This gives any individual who wishes to attend the trial proceedings for this highly sensitive case an easy access to the premises via the QR code.

John Fredriksen, Oslo Police Chief of Staff, pointed out that what the journalists did only shows that they have little grasp of the security regime that the court administration and the police have in place to assure that the trial is conducted in a dignified and secure manner.

Good thing, however, that this kind of problem is easily resolved by requiring everyone authorized to enter the court premises to bring additional identification. The Oslo District Court has also already recalled the journalists’ access cards so that new ones can be made for them.

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