[David Strom's Web Informant] Time to really go paperless when it comes to boarding passes

David Strom david at strom.com
Mon Sep 11 08:00:56 EDT 2017

Web Informant, September 11, 2017: Time to really go paperless when it
comes to boarding passes

I have been a big fan of paperless airline boarding passes almost since
their introduction, and a recent post reminded me of yet another reason
*they can become an easy way to compromise your identity*. The reason is a
combination of the low and high technology, all leveraging your smart
phone’s camera.

The issue has to do with the way the airlines make it easy to use the
printed bar code information to gain access to your flight details. Brian
Krebs first wrote about this several years ago,
and if you still use the printed boarding passes, the first thing you
should know is that you shouldn’t post pictures of them on any of your
social media outlets. Krebs found more than 90,000 such images exist when
he did a quick search.

So here is what could happen. Criminals look for these photos, and could
then use the QR code or the booking reference number to gain access to your
flight details. Think about this for a moment. Let’s say you are on
vacation, and you post your “here I am at the airport about to take off for
a long trip on the other side of the planet” obligatory photo. Now someone
comes along, and can change your return flight, or use this information to
leverage more identity theft since the booking contains information such as
your passport number and birthdate.

And of course, posting flight details is another way that criminals could
decide to pay your unoccupied home a visit while you are away too.

Some folks purposely blur out the details about their name, but leave the
barcode visible, such as this photo above, where we can find out her full
name by scanning the barcode. Oops.

This method works for dumpster diving too. How many of us leave our used
boarding papers on board the aircraft that we are leaving, thinking no use
to me? I have done that several times. Again, someone could use that
information to hijack my account. So avoid leaving your boarding pass in
the trash at the airport or tucked into that seat-back pocket in front of
you before deplaning. Instead, bring it home and shred it. And don’t take
pictures of your boarding pass. Finally, be careful of spreading your
“real” birthday around on social media. My “birthday” has been January 1
for several years: my real friends know when it actually is.

So go paperless when you can. And be careful what you post online.

Comments always welcome here: http://blog.strom.com/wp/?p=6152
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