Here’s Why Printing Boarding Tickets Is a Bad Idea from a Security Standpoint
There was once a time when we all had no choice but to print our boarding tickets, which is why many users still include this task into their preparations for a flight. Of course, nowadays, many airlines allow showing your boarding pass on your mobile phone’s screen. Using an airline’s app is not only convenient but also safer. As you see, specialists warn us that cybercriminals can misuse the information that is displayed on boarding passes. Thus, knowing that many users like to share photos of their tickets on social media as well as leave them unattended after flights, cybersecurity specialists now recommend against printing boarding tickets. In case you cannot travel without a printed pass, you should learn how to keep your information secret and protect your frequent flyer miles from being stolen.
Cybersecurity specialists say that private information such as your name, your booking reference number, and your frequent flyer number – that should be displayed on your boarding ticket – might be enough to hack your frequent flyer account. As for any other details that might be needed to take control of your account, they could be searched on the Internet. Lots of breached information can be purchased from the dark web. Not to mention that users post a lot of sensitive information without realizing it on social media. Thus, if someone with malicious intentions gets his hands onto your boarding ticket, they could hack your account or pass the collected information to someone who could be interested in it.
How to ensure that no one can obtain the information displayed on a printed boarding ticket?
If your airlines do not have an app or you do not want to use it, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, your ticket should be hidden until you are asked to show it so that no one around could read the information it contains. After boarding your plane, it is highly advisable not to leave your ticket on the plane because other passengers or the crew could take it. After all, you cannot know who might want to get your sensitive information.
Besides, even if no one on the plane is interested in your boarding ticket, there are no guarantees that it will be disposed of correctly after cleaning up the plane. Meaning, as long as the data on your ticket remains readable, there is a chance that someone, for example, a dumpster diver with malicious intentions, could still obtain and misuse it. Therefore, what you should do is hold onto your boarding ticket at all times until you can shred it. If you like keeping such things as mementos, we recommend placing it somewhere where no one besides you could look at it.
What do cybercriminals do with hacked frequent flyer accounts?
If your account gets hacked, the attackers might transfer your frequent flyer miles to their own accounts. Also, credentials of hacked profiles often end up on the dark web, where they can be sold to anyone who is willing to pay. Buyers can then use the purchased accounts to take miles from them or use available points to buy flights, gift cards, and other valuable things. The worst part is that if you do not travel a lot and do not check your frequent flyer account as often as your banking account, it might take you lots of time until you notice that your points are gone. Naturally, to prevent this, we recommend learning how to protect frequent flyer miles.
How to protect frequent flyer miles?
You probably already realize that one of the ways to protect frequent flyer miles is to keep your boarding tickets safe until you can properly dispose of them. However, your boarding ticket is not the only thing that might lead hackers to your account. For instance, if your login credentials are breached, or you use weak passwords, it might be only a matter of time till someone manages to take over your account. A data breach is a likely scenario considering that airports and airlines have failed at securing information of their customers in the past.
Consequently, we highly recommend using a unique login name and a secure password that could not be easily guessed or brute-forced. If you fear that you will not be able to remember another set of unique login credentials, we advise using a dedicated password manager that could both help you create strong passwords and memorize them for you. Also, it would be a good idea to set up Two-Factor Authentication for your frequent flyer account. It is an additional security layer that will not allow anyone to enter your account without being verified first. Usually, to pass Two-Factor Authentication, one is required to enter a code sent to a user’s email or mobile phone. In such a case, no one could get to your account unless they had access to your email or your mobile phone.
All in all, the security of your boarding ticket might not seem as important as the security of your passport or credit cards, but failing to ensure it could also cause you damage. Cybersecurity specialists say that more and more hackers realize how valuable loyalty points are, which is why it is likely that their interest in hacking frequent flyer accounts will only increase in the future. Therefore, why not include a couple of new habits, such as using airline apps instead of printing boarding tickets, the next time you fly to protect yourself from cybercriminals focused on the travel industry. For more tips on how to increase your cybersecurity while traveling, we advise reading this blog post.