Click…Hashtag…Post and now Instagram has a brand new photo in the newsfeed of you holding your boarding pass for your next flight. How excited you were but what happens when you learn that your recently uploaded photo could possibly cost you your identity!? Now, you may think I am crazy but bear with me for a moment. Cyber attacks, cyber fraud, hackers, they are all problems that internet users face in today’s world. The age of the internet makes it easy for criminals steal your identity and the popularity of posting pictures is making it even easier. Majority of people post things thinking only their friends can see that picture or if they delete it then it will disappear, not many people stop to think just how intricate of a web the internet weaves. In fact, just recently a researched by the name of Karsten Nohl showed an audience how easy it was to steal someone’s identity using Instagram’s hashtag #boardingpass.
Mr. Nohl gave a presentation to the Chaos Computer Club earlier this year where you tried to educate those in attendance on how easy their personal identities can be stolen. It may be common knowledge that the airline’s only evidence that you are who you say you are resides in a six digit number that is encoded in the barcode of your boarding pass. Mr. Nohl used the Instagram hashtag #boardingpass to pull this barcode and then use it to log into the Lufthansa website. Once Nohl was logged into the website he was able to view the unlucky traveler’s personal information, like their full name, address, payment information and even frequent flier number. While the firewalls and protection protocols may be getting harder to crack if individuals do not use some common sense there is no firewall or amount of protection that will keep their private information private.