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Security specialists warn of pre-holiday social media usage risks

16 October 2015 - 09:50 by David Aiken

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People who use social media to share their thoughts with the world could be putting themselves at risk of identity theft in one specific, new way, according to the Independent.

Digital security expert, Brian Krebs, is quoted as having highlighted a potentially dangerous new trend for people posting pictures of their boarding passes and other travel documents to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And by doing so, they could be revealing not only personal information about themselves to malicious third parties, but also other data that could be exploited to foil their travel plans, both now and in the future.

Krebs points out that many people do not realise that even if a ticket or pass does not include a lot of personal info in the form of text, most will feature a barcode which the airline will scan, to make sure that they are destined for the right flight. And if this barcode is visible in a social media post, sent prior to the flight, then cybercriminals could scan it and harvest the information it contains for themselves.

The data included in a typical boarding pass barcode includes the name, flight details, previous flight record and frequent flyer information for a passenger. And people who book a flight via safe shopping online can often now print off their boarding pass at home, making the temptation to share this via social media all the greater.

Krebs even went on to point out that people should be careful of how they dispose of their used boarding passes, because if the barcode is intact and someone finds it, the exploitation could occur after the event and it may even be possible for third parties to alter or cancel future flights.

So treat social media just as you would safe shopping online and avoid inadvertent sharing of personal information.