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Japan airport staff dash to replace passcodes after security cock-up

Haneda employee drops key codes ahead of Obama visit

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The dangers of writing passwords down on paper were laid bare in the Japanese airport of Haneda this week after a member of staff managed to lose a note containing key security codes ahead of US president Barack Obama’s arrival today.

The unlucky Skymark Airlines employee dropped the memo – which contained a list of the codes – on the departure lobby floor on Sunday afternoon, a transport ministry official told AFP.

Although it was recovered half an hour later, the authorities deemed it a big enough security breach to change the credentials ahead of the first visit by a US president in nearly 20 years.

There’s no clarification on exactly which areas of the Tokyo airport the codes provided access to but the ministry was obviously taking no chances.

Air Force One will fly in on Wednesday evening, with 16,000 police apparently mobilised around the city during the two-day trip.

The incident is a timely reminder of the persistent security flaws that exist in passcode-based access systems.

It’s also something of an embarrassment for the airport as it seeks to tighten security ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police Department launched a dedicated counter-terrorism unit to patrol Haneda airport round-the-clock, after the facility expanded international flights by about 50 percent to 90,000 per year, according to local wire Jiji Press. ®

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