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Civil Aviation Authority puts 'secret' security info on the web

Don't right-click! It's a secret!

Application security programs and practises

Updated: Observant Reg readers will have noticed the recent kerfuffle about airport security so why is the Civil Aviation Authority publishing supposedly secret documents on its website?

A document by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority, and posted on its website, contained blacked out sections containing: "RESTRICTED and CONFIDENTIAL information". The note continues: "This information can not be publicised in any way outside the CAA and can not be included in any public consultation documentation."

The eight page pdf is an application from British Airports Authority to suspend payment of rebates triggered by delays caused by extra security. BAA complains that it is impossible to meet its target of ten minutes queueing time because of "enhanced security reqirements". Several sections of the document are blacked out. But they can be easily accessed by right-clicking on the relevant section or using the read-aloud feature of Adobe Acrobat.

Like many "secret" documents they make rather dry and dull reading and for that reason, and in the interests of not going to prison, we're not going to share them with you.

The document was linked to from at least two pages on the CAA website.

A Register reader spotted the cock-up last night and tried, without success, to report it to the CAA's 24 hour emergency line.

He told us: "It was freely available. I was just looking around the site. I opened the pdf, saw the yellow warning notice and kept scrolling down. It was perfectly visible because my screen settings are a bit weird."

We contacted the CAA to request the removal of the document before publishing this story. Which they did. Eventually.

The CAA sent us this statement: "The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was today made aware that a document provided to it for publication on its website contained information which, although blacked out, could still be accessed using a particular set of procedures.

The CAA immediately removed the document from its website, and thanks the Register for bringing this to the CAA's attention.

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