ColoRADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A shocking discovery is made by a computer expert in Colorado Springs. He says the popular app for Southwest Airlines is not secure.
"When I found this I was shocked, shocked. I thought I was hallucinating," says David Stites.
Security software engineer Stites wanted to know how secure apps on smartphones or tablets really are. He found a huge flaw in the Southwest Airlines app. The information that goes from your phone to Southwest in not encrypted, and, Stites says, that is hackers dream.
"They would have access to anything you have access to, such as address, e-mail, phone, credit cards. They could even book a flight in your name," says Stites
If a user logs on to a free wifi network, like at a coffee shop or the airport, they could be victimized. Hackers can even see a travelers itinerary to know when they are out of the house.
"Usually, security is not thought of as a benefit, until it fails," says Stites.
Stites also says that hackers can easily download a program to steal, or sniff, unencrypted information in minutes. If the information were encrypted they would just get a jumble of characters.
Stites says that he doesn't know how Southwest Airlines let this happen, but knows that sometimes companies have to decide between security and the bottom line.
"People rush to get products out, the engineering dollars are not there to complete the project, so security falls to the back," says Stites.
Stites found this security flaw in mid-December, and called Southwest. He says he never got a call back, and has repeatedly checked, but the flaw hasn't been fixed.
"Clearly, it doesn't seem like they are very interested in protecting consumer information," says Stites.
KRDO NewsChannel13 tried to contact Southwest Airlines as well, but the call has not been returned.
However, if you are using this app, it is important to note that there should be no security problems if you are using a private network at home, or if your device has 3G capabilities.