Feeds

TSA fails again with adjustable boarding passes

Lets passengers pick their own security rating

Reducing security risks from open source software

The reputation of possibly America's least-favorite fondlers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has taken yet another hit with the discovery that its shoddy security allows passengers in its PreCheck system to pick their own security status.

PreCheck allows some frequent fliers willing to pay $100 for a background check to skip some of the onerous security checks, like taking off shoes and unpacking laptops or toiletries. PreCheck customers are still subject to more intensive searches on a randomized basis, however.

Aviation blogger John Butler discovered that the barcode information used for the boarding passes of Precheck fliers wasn't encoded, and could be read by a simple smartphone app. It contained the flier's name, flight details, and a number, either a one or a three, with the latter confirming the passenger was cleared for lesser screening.

It would be a relatively simple job to scan the issued boarding pass, decode it, and then change the security setting if you are planning to bring something naughty aboard, or even change the name on the ticket to match a fake ID. After putting the new information into a barcode, and a couple of minutes of cut and paste, the new boarding pass would work as normal, Butler explained.

"The really scary part is this will get past both the TSA document checker, because the scanners the TSA use are just barcode decoders, they don't check against the real time information," he said. "So the TSA document checker will not pick up on the alterations. This means, as long as they sub in 3 they can always use the Pre-Check line."

But the agency that appears to devote so much time to ogling (and possibly irradiating) fliers, fondling vibrators, promoting the homosexual agenda, or just plain stealing fliers' belongings doesn't seem to have thought of that. The TSA only deems it necessary to have barcode readers for checking the data itself against the presented ID, not the accuracy of boarding pass itself. Simply encrypting the data would also work.

According to the TSA's vision statement, the agency strives to "continuously set the standard for excellence in transportation security through its people, processes, and technology." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.