mailing list archives
Airport x-ray software creating images of phantom weapons?
From: "Jason Coombs" <jasonc () science org>
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2004 05:08:48 +0000 GMT
My flight into Midway airport, Chicago, just sat on the runway for nearly two hours tonight because of a potential
security breach in the terminal, described here:
A Transportation Security Administration representative at Midway airport confirmed for me that the suspicious object
displayed on the computerized x-ray machine may have been a phantom image similar to the one in Miami on November 13th:
Software glitch in security scanner at Miami airport 'projected the image of a weapon' that didn't exist
Why are we replacing perfectly good analog video displays with computer-generated displays for security-related data??
Haven't enough people learned yet that whenever you digitize something you render it unreal and vulnerable?
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
If the devices create phantoms by design, why would they not also obey commands to display arbitrary replacement images
when some non-TEMPEST-hardened component is blasted with RF from within the x-ray scanning chamber?
Do such transportation security technologies really benefit from technical obscurity? Why not publish the design, specs
and source code for analysis and for all to see?
Security improvements in such devices are presently limited to those companies that have the contracts to build and
deploy them, or infosec firms that audit and pen test them in secret.
Like electronic voting machines, this is a misguided, unnecessary, and counter-productive “innovation for the sake of
change or profit” and it makes no sense. But of course it isn't going to stop, and the security vendor with the best
technology is as likely to win contracts in transportation security as in any other industry. (Not)
If quality is the true objective, then perhaps we should adopt exceptions to intellectual property laws to force into
the public domain any creative work that has the capability to impact the “security” of anything important...
jasonc () science org
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
- Airport x-ray software creating images of phantom weapons? Jason Coombs (Nov 16)