The on-line booking code for flight reservations has just six numbers and letters. Experts are now warning that hackers can easily crack the code, and re-book the flight.
German media report that there are security breaches in the on-line system used to book airline tickets, and that leaves the door open to hackers. The "Süddeutsche Zeitung," WDR, and NDR quote security experts as saying that tickets booked on-line are not password-protected - so it's fairly easy for hackers to break the code and re-book flights, either for themselves or others.
The six-digit booking code is not protected by additional security measures. Once the hackers gain access to the code, they can re-book the ticket - which has already been paid for - on a different day, and use it themselves. Passengers who travel within the Schengen Area of 26 European states don't have to show identification at airports, so the on-line booking fraud has gone undetected by the authorities for some time.
The German Aviation Association, which includes airlines such as Lufthansa and Air Berlin, says that members' IT systems are "regularly checked for security breaches." For example, a disproportionately large number of inquiries that are found to come from one computer are then blocked.
These reports are based on information compiled by Security Research Labs - a Berlin-based firm. SRL found the security breaches in the Amadeus Central Reservations System, which is used by a number of airlines. Amadeus says 747.3-million passengers used its system last year.
fm / at, jm (AFP, Spiegel Online)