Don’t throw out your boarding pass. Hackers can use it to access your personal info

James Whatley/Flickr

After you hand the gate agent your boarding pass to scan and head back onto the plane, there’s a pretty good chance you quit paying attention to that stub in your hand. If you’re like me, your boarding pass will either end up on the ground or in the pocket of the seat in front of you. Big mistake.

The innocent looking lines and fuzzy pixels of the bar code actually contain a treasure trove of passenger information that could easily be exploited by shady characters who want access to your accounts. That’s exactly what Brian Krebs discovered in his blog Krebs on Security, after a reader did some sleuthing on a friend who’d posted a picture of his boarding pass on Facebook. Using a free online reader, the amateur detective was able to decode the bar code quickly.

The information uncovered included his friend’s name, phone number, frequent-flier number and flight information, all of which can be used to access an account and take effective control of it. According to Krebs, the information is also enough to make it easier for an attacker to reset the PIN number used to secure the account.

photo by Krebs on Security

Unfortunately, security is a problem throughout the travel industry, as illustrated when United — as well as both Trump and Hilton Hotels — were hacked earlier this year.

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