A self-described hacker with a reputation for causing mischief has obtained the phone and passport numbers of Tony Abbott within minutes.
Alex Hope easily uncovered the personal details after the former prime minister posted a photo of his Qantas boarding pass to Instagram.
The entire process, which he documented online at his blog site Mango Zone, was completed in under an hour.
Alex Hope (pictured) easily uncovered the former Prime Minster’s personal details in about 45 minutes
‘The whole thing took maybe 45 minutes?’ Alex told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Half an hour if you leave out me trying to scan the barcode for 15 minutes, failing to notice the booking reference was just printed on the boarding pass.’
Alex took on the challenge when a friend posted Mr Abbott’s boarding pass picture to their chat group with the caption ‘can you hack this man?’.
By entering Mr Abbott’s flight details into the Qantas booking site, Alex was then able to read the page’s HTML code which unveiled the private information.
After successfully carrying out the dare, Alex was very worried the online stunt may have crossed a line.
‘When i first saw the passport number, I wondered….whether I had committed a crime,’ he said.
Alex Hope was able to hack Prime Minister Tony Abbott after he posted his Qantas flight details online
‘So i spent weeks trying to ask a lawyer if I had. When they finally said I was probably fine I was really happy, and I began to write the blog post about it.’
Alex then tried to alert Mr Abbott and Qantas about the breach so they could take steps to prevent others with more sinister intentions from doing the same thing.
Alex said anyone on Instagram who saw Mr Abbott’s post could have replicated the hack.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was hacked after posting boarding pass online
But it took about six months from March before Alex was finally contacted by an assistant of Mr Abbott.
Not long after that, Mr Abbott called Alex himself.
Alex said Mr Abbott wanted to learn about ‘the IT’ and was fascinated by the cyber prank.
‘He was really cool about it. He just came across as someone who had their information leaked, and wanted to understand how it happened,’ Alex said.
‘When I’d collected myself from various corners of the room, he asked if there was a book about the basics of IT since he wanted to learn about it. That was kind of humanising since it made me realise that even famous people are just people too.’
Mr Abbott now has a new passport number and is much more aware of dangers of posting boarding pass details online.
Qantas thanked Alex in a statement for bringing the issue to their attention and said it has now updated its cyber security protocols.
Alex said the point was not to embarrass or mock Mr Abbott but to show that anyone, even someone as prominent as a former prime minister can be hacked if they are not more careful with their personal information.