You should think twice about posting pictures of your boarding pass to Facebook or Instagram.
As Brian Krebs, who writes the well-regarded cybersecurity news site Krebs on Security, wrote on Tuesday, the barcodes found on boarding passes are chock full of information about you. And you don’t need any fancy equipment to read them.
Decoding a barcode is as easy as uploading an image of it to a free online barcode reader.
Barcodes on boarding passes, Krebs writes, can include your full name, your flight record finder, your arrival and departure airports, the airline you’re flying, and your frequent flyer number.
This information may not sound that exciting. Much of this information could be found written out on the boarding pass.
But it’s what you can do with this information that’s troubling.
Krebs relays a story from a reader who was able to use a picture of his friend’s boarding pass from a Lufthansa flight to get information that gave him access to his friend’s account on the Lufthansa website. “Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flier number from the Star Alliance,” this person told Krebs.
As Krebs notes, once you have access to the account, where you can change seats and cancel future flights, you can also begin to reset information related to someone’s frequent flier account.
I was very easily able to glean much of this information merely from pictures of boarding passes that people had uploaded to Instagram using the hashtag #boarding pass.
I found some photos of boarding passes that clearly showed the barcode, took screenshots of them, and uploaded them to Inlight Research’s barcode reader. I didn’t have to alter or rotate the photos at all — within seconds the barcode reader decoded the information for me.
This is the free barcode reader from Inlight Research:
If you have a printed boarding pass, the best thing to do would be to hold on to it and then shred it when you can.
And, of course, don’t post pictures of it online.
Check out Krebs on Security to see an image of a the information found on a boarding pass after scanning the barcode.
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