Importance of Using Encrypted Barcodes

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Oct 26, 2012

To ensure that the codes created by a barcode generator are not corrupted and can continuously yield accurate tracking information, it is important to ensure that the barcodes are encrypted. Failure to take the necessary security options could yield severely negative results, as one U.S.-based airline recently found out.

The Daily Mail reported that some of the airline's passengers were able to bypass mandatory airport screenings through a loophole in the barcode reader the company used. Because the codes were not properly encrypted, anyone could use a barcode scanner on a mobile device to determine if they had been pre-selected for additional screening. By using easily-obtainable software, just about anyone who owned an internet-enabled smartphone or tablet was able to access all of the information contained in a barcode.

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"Thousands of people have reported being able to get the information using their phones," Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, said to BBC News.

While this incident does not directly relate to supply chain management, it does provide an example of what can happen if a barcode generator is not incorporating the best security features. Automated data collection software needs to be able to accurately and securely collect information, and the use of unencrypted barcodes means that critical supply chain information is potentially open to anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

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