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Why you should never post your boarding pass on social media

As exciting as holidays can be, that seemingly innocent boarding pass photo on social media can set you up for some serious problems.

Cybersecurity experts are warning travellers to be mindful of risks before they travel.

Forget mailing a postcard.  Many of today’s travellers prefer to use social media to share their holiday experiences with friends and family back home.

Facebook and Instagram are popular choices, while TikTok has grown in popularity, particularly among the younger crowd.

It all sounds harmless, however, sharing certain holiday images on social media should ring warning bells, especially if the traveller is concerned about being hacked.

Not only could a holiday be financially ruined or disrupted, but travellers also run the risk of having their identity stolen or their home burgled while they’re away.

Keep those innocent holiday selfies off social media until you're home.

A recent survey suggested that almost 85 per cent of travellers were worried about being hacked while on the move, leading to cybersecurity experts to warn that risks increased drastically for those who shared too much information online.

Of notable concern were the snapping of airport selfies or a photo of a traveller’s boarding pass and a passport for social media followers to know the travellers were heading abroad.

Boarding passes contains personal information that can help hackers gain access to personal information that can ruin both your holiday and potentially your short-term future thereafter.

“Even if only the barcode of your flight ticket is visible in the picture, hackers can scan it and find out such information as a traveller’s full name, reservation number, passenger name record (PNR) and sometimes even contact information,” said Nord VPN cybersecurity expert, Adrianus Warmenhoven.

Failure to take care could lead to a world of pain upon your return.

“The data can later be used by the hacker to ruin a traveller’s holiday by cancelling return flights or stealing money from their payment cards.”

After collecting a huge amount of data about their victim, cybercriminals can sell the data on the dark web or even worse, steal the victim’s whole identity, enabling the hacker to commit fraud by opening credit card accounts or making unauthorised purchases.

While posting a traveller’s boarding pass is not recommended, VPN experts say there are ways to share holiday experiences with followers and stay as secure as possible online.

For example, save your photo posting for after you’ve returned from your trip. It’s better to hold off posting photos or information that indicate you’re away. Don’t let your followers know your home is empty.

Nefarious sources can access personal information, such as home addresses, from boarding passes.

Further, make sure your account settings are set to private. One of the most important pieces of information to know before you post anything online is who you’re sharing your information with. Make sure that your account settings are set to private, and your posts are visible to your friends only instead of everyone on the internet.

Never share personal information on social media. Remove personal details, such as your home address and telephone number, from your profile pages. If there, they are easily accessible by anyone. Don’t make status updates sharing your location. And never post photos of your passport, plane tickets, or any other documents.

Be careful with free public WiFi. If you decide to post anything online while abroad, ensure your connection is secure.

Cafés, shops, and even hotels offer unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Users need to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks because they are easily monitored. Hackers may position themselves as a WiFi hotspot or use special software to steal data from unprotected networks.

Done right, your social media proclivity can set up a timeless memory of a perfect holiday, but with care abandon, can lead to all kinds of pain on your return.

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Written by: Mike Smith
Published: 25 October 2023

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