We logged on to the BA website, bought a ticket in Broer's name and then, using the frequent flyer number on his boarding pass stub, without typing in a password, were given full access to all his personal details - including his passport number, the date it expired, his nationality (he is Dutch, living in the UK) and his date of birth. The system even allowed us to change the information.So, there's a booming market in paper shredders. Get one, or a gerbil. Or is this just another media inspired panic?
Using this information and surfing publicly available databases, we were able - within 15 minutes - to find out where Broer lived, who lived there with him, where he worked, which universities he had attended and even how much his house was worth when he bought it two years ago.
New anti-terrorist legislation and id cards mean an awful lot of personal information will be stored at various government agencies and often outsourced to private companies. New passports, and id cards, will store information and have a tiny antennae to transmit the information to an electronic reader at, for example, passport control. The official line is that this will only be read at short distances. However a more powerful reader could pick up the information. Experts agree that the encryption used is not as strong as it could be and will be cracked before long.
The Guardian makes the point that this all down to the U.S. Yet another problem blamed on the U.S.