Barcodes on Boarding Passes: Are they Safe?

Barcodes on boarding passes save a lot of time, but it has come to recent attention that they could leave room for a major security breach.

The security flaws in boarding passes could allow terrorists or smugglers to know in advance whether or not they will be subject to additional security screenings.

Currently, information stored in boarding pass barcodes is unencrypted, meaning it can be read in advance by tech-savvy travelers. By using a smartphone, travelers could look at the final number in the barcode to see whether they would have to go through to full security screening or the usual process. And since passengers can print boarding passes up to 24 hours in advance, it could be very easy to modify the barcode and print from home.

While the TSA declined to comment on their unencrypted barcodes, its an uneasy feeling knowing that passengers could tamper with the barcode on their boarding pass to alter the type of security screening they will receive.