After a yearlong of hard work, you are all pumped up for your forthcoming trip. You have shopped and packed. The bookings have been made. You are geared for the next adventure. You are at the airport and you are about to board the plane. I know... I know... It’s hard to contain the excitement. It is a much deserved holiday. So the next thing you do is to take a picture of your air-ticket and post it on the social media. Comments start pouring in. Your friends are very happy for you. And in this entire sojourn of blissful state, who would ever think that in some part of the world there is someone looking at that picture and can absolutely misuse it? Oh, that escalated quickly! Well, your boarding pass can be hacked in a matter of seconds.
Yes, it is true. Yes, it can happen. And yes, it can absolutely happen to anyone. You can be hacked and robbed and just by that airplane ticket.
It is the easiest and the quickest way a hacker can get your complete information. A barcode scan on the airline’s website and he can access your name, transaction details (which does include your mode of payment), your past flight history and your reward points in the airline’s account. Bam! That hit hard, didn’t it?
If you are wondering how he would come to know any details other than your name, let me break that down for you.
How difficult would it be for him to find your birth date on social media?
How difficult would it be for him to know your email ID after knowing that?
How difficult for him would it be to access your personal account and your airlines account one that is done?
2) Seat Number:
It is the second go-to option for a hacker if he is unable to scan the barcode properly. Since the name of the airline, the destinations, and your seat number are visible in bold letters on your boarding pass; rest of it becomes a cake-walk for the hacker.
Well, if you feed all the details in the airline’s website, you can get details of the passenger.
For fun sake, haven’t we all tried filling random PNR number just to have a hearty laugh at the funny names we come across? With all the details handy because of that image, it can result in dangerous consequences.
We all have a habit of letting the world know the minute to minute details by geo-tagging our location.
It is neither advisable nor sensible.
It is as useful as the picture below.
This 2016 wholesome statistics on Cyber Crime mentioned that there are
- 18% chances are that you can be hacked if you post a clear picture of your boarding pass.
- The chances increase to 32% if you are geo-tagging your location along with the clear photograph of your boarding pass.
- It further increases to 46% if you have a public access to your social media accounts.
How to avoid this entire situation?
Obviously, you will have to be heedful to do the needful.
1) Do not (never) post the picture of your boarding pass on social media, on WhatsApp, or anywhere else for that matter.
2) Do not make such social media announcements of your plans. An opportunist never waits for an opportunity, but finds one.
3) Always keep a track of your redeem points.
4) Never geo-tag yourself anywhere. If you want to let know your friends about something, you can tag the place you had been, once you are back home.
5) In case you have been silly on the social media, delete the post as soon as you can and notify the Cyber Cell helpline immediately.
What about the air-ticket?
- Use paper shredder to destroy it.
- Do not burn it and add to the environmental hazard.
- Do not scratch out the details using an indelible marker/pen or blotting ink. It is easy to read the original print under fluorescent/UV light.
- You can gather your air-tickets and give it to any government operated aid center or you can hand them over at airline inquiry counters at the airport and ask them to safely destroy the tickets (airline counters will accept a single ticket too).
- Shredding the web check-in print outs on the paper and photocopies of your ticket.
We all try to do everything to avoid being hacked. We avoid using the computers at a cyber cafe, we log out every time we use someone else’s phone, and we even change our passwords regularly. But what we don’t realize is how these little things can affect your social security and account encryption. Being cautious and aware is the only key. Else, it doesn’t take more than few minutes to copy someone’s posted picture of air tickets, concert tickets or lottery bonanza. Why give yourself a chance to cry over the spilled milk?
Do not pull a Kardashian fiasco on yourself by making your personal life too public.
Stay alert and be careful!
They are always watching you.
Stories by Jennifer Warren