Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged airports

In response to evolving terrorist threats, including non-metallic explosive devices and weapons, the U.S. TSA has adopted full-body scanners as the primary passenger screening method at nearly 160 airports nationwide at a cost exceeding $1 billion. Although full-body scanners play a critical role in transportation security, they have generated considerable controversy, including claims that the devices are unsafe, violate privacy and civil liberties, and are ineffective. Furthermore, these scanners are complex embedded systems that raise important computer security questions.

Despite such concerns, neither the manufacturers nor the government have disclosed enough technical details to allow for rigorous independent evaluation, on the grounds that such information could benefit attackers, or is a trade secret. To help advance the public debate, we purchased a government-surplus Rapiscan Secure 1000 full-body scanner and performed a detailed security evaluation of its hardware and software.

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Alexandra Schmid was convicted Friday in the Queens Supreme Court of stealing money from passengers’ luggage at Kennedy Airport.

Alexandra Schmid was working as a Transportation Security Administration officer when Dr. Imrana Ali and her family were boarding a flight to India on Dec. 9, 2011, officials said.

Schmid, 34, separated Ali’s family from their luggage for 15 minutes. When they got their belongings back, Schmid bizarrely insisted she never touched their stuff, according to prosecutors.

The family had to rush to make their flight. Once on board they discovered $6,000 in cash was missing from Ali’s husband’s jacket pocket, officials said.

A month later, Schmid ripped off another passenger headed to India, prosecutors said.

As she screened Rahat Mohammed Shimul and his mother on Jan. 5, 2012, Shimul alerted the her his mother’s purse contained $4,000 in cash.

Schmid briefly left the area with the purse, then returned it with the cash missing.

She accused Shimul of stealing the cash from his own mother when he complained to her it was missing, officials said.

Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld found Schmid guilty of grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct Friday following a four-week trial, officials said.

“It is particularly troubling that someone hired to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s airlines and to protect all of us from terrorism would stoop to stealing from those she is supposed to protect,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Sentencing is set for March 13, 2015. Schmid faces up to 14 years in prison for her actions.

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From BlackHat:

Every day, millions of people go through airport security. While it is an inconvenience that could take a while, most are willing to follow the necessary procedures if it can guarantee their safety. Modern airport security checkpoints use sophisticated technology to help the security screeners identify potential threats and suspicious baggage.

Have you ever wondered how these devices work? Have you ever wondered why an airport security checkpoint was set up in a particular configuration? Join us as we present the details on how a variety of airport security systems actually work, and reveal their weaknesses. We’ll present what we have learned about modern airport security procedures, dive deep into the devices used to detect threats, and we’ll present some the bugs we discovered along the way.

If you’d like the pdf slides from the presentation, they are embedded below.

Download (PDF, 7.56MB)

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Reports of drone sightings near other planes, helicopters and airfields are reaching the government almost daily, say federal and industry officials.

The FAA requires that drone and model aircraft operators keep flights to under 400 feet in altitude, keep the aircraft within sight of the operator and stay at least 5 miles away from an airport. Small drones are often indistinguishable from model aircraft, which have grown in sophistication.

Commercial operators and government officials from police to research scientists must obtain FAA certificates of authorization to fly drones. Exceptions are made for some government drones such as those the military flies in great swaths of airspace in reserved, remote areas. Customs and Border Protection flies high-altitude drones along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada.

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A man is suing the TSA after he says he opened his suitcase to find his mother’s ashes dumped out.

According to court documents, Mr. Thomas had followed all of the guidelines and properly packed his mother’s “heavy and sturdy” urn inside of his suitcase for check-in.

The urn was tightly screwed closed and he says it was packed with extra clothing for padding and protection.

But when he arrived in Puerto Rico, he found his mother ashes dumped inside of the suitcase, all over his clothing and with a TSA notice of inspection.

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