Skip to main content

A flaw in e-ticket systems could mean a hacker can print your boarding pass

best flight tracking apps
Trevor Mogg

Security researchers at the firm Wandera have exposed a vulnerability in the e-ticking system used by several popular global airlines. The vulnerability was discovered in December and involves unsecured check-in emails that can put the personal information of passengers at risk or even allow a hacker to print boarding passes.

Though there is no evidence that currently supports a major data breach, eight airlines including Southwest, Air France, KLM, Vueling, Jetstar, Thomas Cook, Transavia, and Air Europa are impacted by this vulnerability. According to Wandera, these airliners are sending unencrypted check-in links, which otherwise automatically log passengers into a website to check flight status and print boarding passes. That can allow a hacker who is sharing the same Wi-Fi network as a passenger to intercept the link and gain access to the same information.

Several types of personally identifiable information can be accessed through this vulnerability, including passport information, seat assignments, first and last names and baggage selections. However, the type of information that can be stolen depends on each airline e-ticking system. In some cases, hackers can still leverage this information to their advantage to change an itinerary. That includes the ability to add or remove extra bags, change seating arrangements, or alter both the mobile phone number or email associated with a booking.

“Our threat research team observed that travel-related passenger details were being sent without encryption as one of our secured customers accessed the e-ticketing system of one of the airlines mentioned above. It was at that time that Wandera notified the airline and began further research,” Wandera said.

The vulnerability was shared the appropriate government agencies as well as with the airlines. A period of four weeks is given for the vulnerability to be fixed before it was made public. As a solution, Wandera recommends for airlines to adopt strong encryption methods, require user authentication, and use one-time tokens for links in emails.

This would not be the first time that airliners have faced scrutiny relating to its cybersecurity practices. Though more severe, a British Airways data hack in 2018 impacted more than 380,000 passengers after its computer systems were breached. A separate instance with Cathay Pacific also impacted up to 10 million of its customers in 2018.

Editors' Recommendations

Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
Best refurbished laptop deals: How to find cheap used computers
microsoft surface laptop go 2020 on desk

While some folks like to grab the best laptops on the market, that isn't always the best option for most, and unless you're really pushing your laptops to the limits, you probably don't even need that power anyway. That said, if you do want to get some solid performance without spending a ton of money, then you may want to consider grabbing yourself a refurbished laptop rather than a brand-new one. They often tend to have minor issues that are cosmetic, and are usually refurbished by the manufacturer and provided with a guarantee, so you know that it works great. Not only that but going for a refurbished laptop is environmentally friendly since it helps reduce e-waste.

To that end, there are really great refurbished laptop sales that you can check out as part of Best Buy laptop deals, Dell laptop deals, HP laptop deals and Lenovo laptop deals. Alternatively, if you're in the Apple ecosystem, take a look at these refurbished MacBook deals, or if you still want to go for something new, you could consider checking out these laptop deals instead.
Best Buy refurbished laptops -- starting at $120
Best Buy's refurbished laptops are -- you guessed it -- Geek Squad Certified and while they may not be free and clear of absolutely all cosmetic scuffs they are still exceptionally clean and always in working order. Some of them even come with additional software like virus tools, streaming access, like Apple TV+, and much more. Of course, the best part is that you can get a premium and fully upgraded model for less, often with more storage, more power, and more features than you would when buying a base model brand new. You've got some great options from Lenovo, Acer, HP, Dell, Gateway, and even Apple to choose from. The cheapest models start around $120 and increase from there. The best way to know what's available is to head over and browse for yourself.

Read more
Four months later, Intel CPU stability issues remain
Intel's 14900K CPU socketed in a motherboard.

It's been over four months since the first reports of instability in Intel's top CPUs started cropping up, and we are yet to see a fix. Although Intel has been working with its partners on delivering updates that would address the problem, the company itself had to admit in a recent community post that it still hasn't found the root cause.

Meanwhile, hardware testers are finding that even using Intel's recommended workarounds still ends up in crashes and unstable performance -- and the only solutions that seem to work are things that you'll have to settle for.

Read more
What to do if the Wi-Fi option isn’t showing in Windows 11
Missing Wi-Fi icon in Windows 11.

A missing Wi-Fi icon can make getting online a bit tricky. If your PC or laptop definitely has a Wi-Fi receiver connected, or has built-in Wi-Fi and it's not giving you the option of turning it on, you've got a Wi-Fi problem we'll need to fix. There are a few different causes for this problem, so there are a few potential fixes, too.

Here's how to fix your missing Wi-Fi icon so you can get back online.

Read more