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HANDLE WITH CARE. IF YOU DISPOSE OF A BOARDING PASS – SHRED IT! THE INFO THAT CAN BE LEARNED AND MANIPULATED FROM A BOARDING PASS BARCODE IS TERRIFYING!
I read a Krebs on Security article today entitled What’s in a Boarding Pass Barcode? A Lot, and I was truly horrified. If the wrong person gets his or her hands on a boarding pass, volumes of information can be learned about the passenger – information potentially sufficient to hack the passenger’s frequent flyer accounts.
The Krebs Article states, in pertinent part:
The next time you’re thinking of throwing away a used boarding pass with a barcode on it, consider tossing the boarding pass into a document shredder instead. Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.
Here’s where it gets really scary. In addition to the information blatantly printed on a boarding pass, such as name, frequent flyer number, flight number, etc., all you need is a simple barcode decoder, and you can get the passenger’s flight record locator for the flight. In this case, the boarding pass was for a Lufthansa flight. But the free information didn’t stop there. With the record locator, the investigator was able to gain access to the passenger’s entire account, including any future flights booked to his frequent flyer number on any Star Alliance airline. With this information, the investigator could get other personal account information for the passenger, such as his phone number.
Does it stop there? NO. It only gets scarier. With this information, the investigator could make seating or meal changes for the passenger, could change the passenger’s PIN number and could even change or cancel future flights.
Is this scaring you? It’s certainly scaring me. I once had my United Airlines account hacked (See, Fraud: My United Account was Hacked). Not only did the hacker fly on my frequent flyer points (which United thereafter reinstated to me), but he also made hotel plans and tried to convert the miles into Amazon gift cards.
Do you want to see what’s on your Boarding Pass? Take a photo of it and upload it to this barcode scanner website.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.