Tempted to post a picture of your boarding pass online before jetting off on a hard-earned holiday? Don’t. Unless you want to give identity thieves a free ticket to your personal details.
We all know that one person who always checks-in on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat with a picture of their boarding pass right before they’re about to take off. Infact, there are over 75,000 #boardingpass tagged posts on Instagram alone, with clear pictures of passengers’ names, seat numbers and destinations.
If that sounds like you, then you may want to read this as it turns out that you could be putting yourself at serious risk with the seemingly innocent post.
Just how much information are you giving away? Far too much, as shown in an experiment by Australian travel pro Steve Hui – founder & Chief Executive of iFLYflat, who revealed just how easily personal information can be gleaned from your posted flight details. In just a few simple steps, he was able to access a non-suspecting passenger’s full itinerary, frequent flyer logins, and even credit card details.
In the ‘white hat hack’, Hui honed in on a random Instagrammed boarding pass pic which was posted by an Australian Virgin Australia passenger on a code-share flight with Delta Airlines.
“Delta publishes an astonishing amount of information, including the E-Ticket number, booking reference, frequent flyer number and even how many bags you have checked in. I decided to test just how vulnerable the system was, and headed to the Delta website, he told news.com.au.
He then used the passenger’s name and flight details – all of which were clearly visible on the boarding pass – to log into the ‘manage my booking’ section of Delta’s website.
“I could view the passenger’s entire itinerary, and see when and where they were going to travel. Details also included their seat numbers, frequent flyer details and ticket numbers.”
Hui was also able to gain access to some of the passenger’s financial details. “It was easy to see a full breakdown of the fare paid, including the date of purchase and the last four digits of the credit card used. People could use that information to potentially cancel or change your flights, change your seat or cause other issues.”
You might think you’re safe from prying eyes if you cover up your name and flight number on boarding pass photos, but again, Hui gained access to the passenger’s details by running the barcode through a simple online barcode reader.
“I was able to retrieve all the passenger’s details without seeing the rest of the boarding card. The text provided full name, flight number, route, booking reference, ticket number, frequent flyer number and more.”
“Accessing all this information is a lot easier than you may have thought, and there is a great risk associated with publishing uncensored images of boarding passes,” he said.
“Not only can these details be used for identity theft purposes, but you can suffer major financial loss if someone were to use this method to take control of a frequent flyer account.”
Maybe next time you feel the urge to take a picture of your boarding pass, take a snap of your pre-boarding bubbly or a deliriously happy selfie instead.