Shred Your Boarding Pass

October 13, 2015

Saving boarding passes is a great way to remember an enjoyable vacation, but where do you keep them when you return home?  Methods for protecting your identity are obvious with credit cards, debit cards, or other financial instruments, but there is a new threat – hacked boarding passes. 

Luckily, you may be able to avoid this security flaw by using digital boarding passes, if they are offered by the airline.  Will Yakowicz of Inc. can help you keep your personal travel information safe.


The next time you board a flight, be careful about how you dispose of your boarding pass after you land. It turns out, the barcode on the bottom of airplane boarding passes is not just a bunch of black blocks--those characters contain sensitive personal info.

According to cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs, who runs his own site Krebs on Security, hackers can easily use your boarding pass to find out your phone number, future travel plans, and frequent flyer number.

One of Krebs's readers, a man named Cory, saw a friend post his boarding pass to Facebook, so Cory took a screenshot and enlarged the barcode. He then used a website that can decode barcodes and suddenly he had enough information to hack the friend's airline account.

"Besides his name, frequent flyer number and other [personally identifiable information], I was able to get his record locator (a.k.a. 'record key' for the Lufthansa flight he was taking that day," Cory told Krebs. "I then proceeded to Lufthansa's website and using his last name (which was encoded in the barcode) and the record locator was able to get access to his entire account. Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see any future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance."


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