Warning to Travelers: Do Not Toss That Airplane Boarding Pass

Here's why you should add the boarding pass to the ever-growing list of things you need to shred after use.

Warning to Travelers: Do Not Toss That Airplane Boarding Pass Photo (cc) by NoirKitsuné

Add your airplane boarding pass to the ever-growing list of things you need to shred after using.

A journalist and tech security expert, Brian Krebs, reported on his blog that the codes on the pass – both the bar code and the QR code – actually contain a wealth of information, including your name, phone number and frequent-flier program information. There could be enough on there to allow a hacker to take control of your account.

And they don’t even need the pass in hand to do it. On the blog, Krebs explains that a reader used the information in a picture of a pass that a friend posted on social media. From that image, it was easy enough to find a website to decode the data in the codes.

Depending on the airline, once the hacker gets into your account, they can see what other flights you have booked. Perhaps more troubling, they might be able to change your PIN, effectively taking over your account.

There is a relatively easy fix for this security risk: Use an electronic pass, so there’s no slip of paper to leave lying around, then delete it from your phone when you’re done. Otherwise, just keep your paper pass with you until you can dispose of it securely.

What’s your worst information security nightmare? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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