If you ever happen to be flying domestically across the United States, have a scan of your boarding pass barcode with your smartphone, as it could let you know if you have to go through any pre-boarding checks, which could potentially enable any traveller to bring unauthorised items on board.

The barcodes reveal what kind of airport checks the travelling passenger will face, as the codes themselves are unencrypted, and could allow passengers to work out if they had been picked for pre-boarding checks. This essentially subverts the PreCheck system used in the States that decides which frequent fliers can skip security checks. Travellers who are picked by the system will be able to avoid the usual (and annoying) checks such as taking their shoes off, stripping off their jackets, and can also leave all sorts of items that usually need to be checked in their bags. And this could spell all sorts of trouble for domestic flights.

What's alarming is that the barcodes are only supposed to be decoded by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials, but any ol' passenger can whip out their smartphone, log on to a website and decode their boarding pass, meaning would-be-terrorists will be looking at their phones, rather than over their shoulders, and can make any last minute changes to any plans without officials batting an eyelid. How worrying, indeed. [BBC via @BBCTech]

Image credit: Young Man Holding Boarding Pass from Shutterstock