Daily Archives: October 28, 2012

TSA barcode flaw allows terrorists to bypass security

tgdaily.com | Oct 26, 2012

by Emma Woollacott

A vulnerability in the system for US domestic airline boarding cards could tell terrorists when it’s safe to take unauthorized items on board.

Under what’s known as the PreCheck system, certain randomly-chosen frequent fliers are allowed to skip part of the normal security processes, such as removing shoes and taking laptops out of bags.

Passengers can become eligible for the PreCheck system by paying $100 to the US customs agency, which then carries out a background check. Frequent fliers are also often enrolled for free.

The information on whether or not a particular passenger is to be given an easier ride is contained in a barcode on his or her boarding card.

But according to aviation expert John Butler, it’s possible for passengers to use their smartphone to discover what type of security check they’re about to face, 24 hours in advance.

“The problem is, the passenger and flight information encoded in barcode is not encrypted in any way. Using a web site I decoded my boarding pass for my upcoming trip,” he says.

“It’s all there, PNR, seat assignment, flight number, name, ect. But what is interesting is the bolded three on the end. This is the TSA Pre-Check information. The number means the number of beeps. 1 beep no Pre-Check, 3 beeps yes Pre-Check.  On this trip as you can see I am eligible for Pre-Check.”

The flaw was first detected back in July, when the barcode data was analyzed by a poster on the flyertalk forum. Characters 104 and 105, he says, reveal whether a passenger has been selected for the full security process or not.

Astonishingly, much of the information needed to decode the barcode is published online in the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) implementation guide.

Most worryingly, says Butler, the data could even be used to create fake boarding cards with PreCheck eligibility.

“Thankfully, there is a really simple solution: encode the information before putting it on the boarding pass,” he says.

At least 400 TSA agents caught stealing passenger’s items

Hand over them bags and git yer hands up!

Travelers need to be more cautious when flying this holiday season

news4jax.com | Oct 25 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Federal Agency has recently come under fire after national news outlets caught agents stealing red-handed.   

This comes right around the same time the Transportation Security Administration is releasing the top 20 airports for employee theft.

For anyone wondering how safe their luggage is when they leave it at the gate, they have every right to be following the release of TSA’s theft statistics.

Jewellery stolen by TSA worker, surveillance footage deleted when traveler complained

The Federal Agency announced they’ve fired 400 of their employees for stealing. Some gave the items away as gifts, others tried to sell them online or kept them.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act Request, TSA was also released the airports where theft is happening the most.

Number one is Miami International Airport followed by JFK in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Dallas.

Orlando International Airport came in at number 11 for TSA thefts.

A large part of the equation are international airports.

“When you have an airport, international, these things have a propensity to happen,” Channel 4’s Safety Expert Ken Jefferson said.

Jefferson said if someone has something of great value, ship it UPS or FEDEX and have it insured.

The other option if the items are small enough, is to check it as a carry on. But if it’s not small enough, it’s not worth the risk to check it.

“The people who we trust the most are the ones stealing from us,”Jefferson added.

“There’s always a few bad apples,” passenger Dave Andorsoezslo said. “Some are honest. I feel my bag is safe and you always wonder what’s going on in the back of your mind.”

Channel 4 didn’t find any passengers who have had items stolen themselves, only passengers who want to believe it won’t happen to them.

“You hate to think ill of the population, but I guess you run that risk right,” passenger Mike Durden said. “So I don’t know how you protect against everybody 100 percent.”

Jewellery stolen by TSA worker, surveillance footage deleted when traveler complained

Deleted evidence: After those 30 days, security footage like this one seen here, that may have captured the alleged theft had been deleted by the TSA

My jewellery was snatched by a TSA worker and they deleted the surveillance footage when I complained, claims passenger

dailymail.co.uk | Oct 28, 2012

By Nina Golgowski

A Boston woman claims TSA agents walked off with thousands of dollars’ worth of jewellery from her luggage, amid a growing number of similar cases spanning the U.S.

Terri Ivester says it was an agent at Logan International Airport who stopped her at a security checkpoint took the bag, and returned it with the jewellery missing

‘The TSA agent holds my backpack up, says there’s a water bottle in this backpack, I’m going to have to take that,’ Mrs Ivester told CBS Boston.

Grabbing her bag, she says the agent left the area to remove the bottle.

400 TSA agents caught stealing passenger’s items

It wasn’t until she had arrived at her final destination in Chicago for a family Christening that she realized several pieces were missing.

‘I’m ready to put on my jewellery and I can’t find it,’ she said, claiming to be missing four pieces totalling $3,700.

‘It had gone through the scanner. I think they saw the jewels and I think they took them,’ she said.

Included in her theft she said was an 18-inch strand of pearls and a double stranded pearl bracelet featuring diamond baguettes.

Adding to her outrage, she says the TSA has notified her that any surveillance footage capturing her trip has since been erased.

While in the past security cameras have been used to capture theft, most recently in the news at New Jersey’s Newark airport, the TSA says they save the footage for only 30 days.

Mrs Ivester says that most of those days were consumed by her filing a report.

Since 2011, more than $60,000 in claims have been filed in Boston, with the TSA reimbursing less than $3,000 of them, CBS reports.

Unfortunately, Mrs Ivester’s case is similar to hundreds of others pouring in across the country.

In last 10 years, 382 TSA agents across the U.S. have been fired for theft.

In Boston, out of thousands hired, Logan’s Federal Security Director George Naccara said only six have been fired.

On a list of the top U.S. airports for TSA employees fired for theft, the airport competes with Denver International and San Diego International for 17th place because of those six thefts.

As the TSA puts it, collectively the number of officers fired ‘represents less than one-half of one per cent of officers that have been employed,’ they said in a statement obtained by ABC.

Microchip implants, tumors and cash

Company glosses over research pointing to health risks

illinoistimes.com | Oct 3, 2007

By Jim Hightower

Untitled Document Have you been chipped? In another cabal of corporate and governmental officials, there’s been a steady push during the past few years to authorize and market microchip devices to be implanted into humans. An outfit named VeriChip Corp. is the chief pusher, asserting that implanting one of its radiofrequency ID chips into your upper arm can be a medical boon.

These electronic capsules transmit a unique code, says VeriChip, and if something happens to you hospital staff can run a scanner over your chip, get your code, and activate a database containing your medical history. VeriChip envisions a market of at least 45 million Americans sporting their very own RFID codes.

But — oops — one bit of info the corporation never mentioned is that studies have found that these implants have induced malignant tumors in lab mice and rats. “There’s no way in the world that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members,” one eminent cancer expert says.

Where were our regulatory watchdogs? Too busy cheering on the chippers to ask tough questions about side effects. Tommy Thompson, the Bush appointee who oversaw the agency that approved VeriChip for use in humans, has been a vigorous promoter of such electronic medical technologies. Five months after Thompson resigned his cabinet position in 2005, guess where he went?

Right onto the board of directors of both VeriChip and its parent corporation, where he was paid $40,000 a year and given about $1 million worth of stock. Interestingly, while Thompson once told an interviewer that he would “absolutely” be willing to have a VeriChip implanted in his own arm, he never did. Maybe he felt that an injection of VeriChip cash would be better for his health.

Future Military Robots To Be More Quiet, Lethal And Intelligent

The U.S military along with DARPA have begun researching ways for soldiers to use their minds to remotely control androids. The Pentagon has earmarked $7million for research into the project, nicknamed Avatar.

defenseworld.net | Oct 27, 2012

Militaries across the globe have begun implementing the use of robots for various military and naval activities. From autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to ground robots everybody wants a piece of the action.

Australia has also undertaken an ambitious robotics project, the MoD is looking to develop a new generation of unmanned maritime drones that would be used for anti-submarine warfare and possible missile attacks on enemy ships.

A fleet of Royal Navy unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) is already being used in the Gulf to help prevent Iran laying mines in important sea lanes, and ministers are now considering whether similar devices could be used to tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Video: Pet-Proto biped robot/Terminator precursor terrifyingly navigating obstacles

The Russian Navy also plans to equip the unmanned submarines in which the issue of the creation of an autonomous unmanned submarines fleet has been in discussion since 1980. Large UUV programs exist in Australia, Great Britain, Sweden, Italy and other countries.

In the future, UUVs will be equipped with advances in machine intelligence, closed-system propulsion, long-life rechargeable batteries, digital data storage, through-water communications, and rugged-environment embedded digital signal, surveillance and reconnaissance relocatable covert communications and networking nodes; electronic warfare; anti-submarine tracking; and perhaps even weapons delivery.

Military robots are as popular; next week the Pentagon will launch one of its robots to achieve greater autonomy. The PackBot, a tracked robot used by US troops to help clear bombs in Afghanistan, will get a number of upgrades that will allows it to operate autonomously in some situations, according to Tim Trainer, a vice president for product management at iRobot.

Earlier this week, Israeli robotics developer Roboteam introduced a new miniature robot designed for intelligence gathering and counter IED operations.

The ultra-light, 13-lb, highly maneuverable robot can be carried by an individual soldier, climbs stairs and 60⁰ obstacles, operates effectively indoors utilizing secure MANET data link.


DARPA’s ‘Avatar project’ aims to give soldiers surrogate robots, make James Cameron proud

The U.S military along with DARPA have begun researching ways for soldiers to use their minds to remotely control androids. The Pentagon has earmarked $7million for research into the project, nicknamed Avatar.

The Pentagon recently began development of new chameleon robots. DARPA has built prototypes of the robot, which like a chameleon, changes color to blend in. The prototype is an early model with the robot tethered to the control system. DARPA officials said the next model will potential have more self contained hardware.

It is clear that the military robotics arena is far more advanced and developed in comparison with its naval counterparts.

According to various studies, the AUV market is set to expand up to $2.3 billion by 2019 while the military robotics field is expected to surpass $8 billion by 2016.

Pentagon developing robotic soldiers for future wars

The Pet-Proto robot (file photo)

presstv.com | Oct 28, 2012

The US Pentagon has begun a contest to advance its efforts to develop robotic soldiers to fight the wars of the future.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), which kicked off at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) conference center in Arlington, Virginia on Wednesday, focuses on testing robots’ abilities to work in difficult situations designed for humans that “simulate conditions in a dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environment.”

US officials and the designers of the robots say they are only being built to provide emergency services during disasters and have made no comments on any possible military applications.

Video: Pet-Proto biped robot/Terminator precursor terrifyingly navigating obstacles

The DRC has four tracks, with teams participating in tracks B and C competing for access to a modified version of the Atlas robot for use in live disaster-response challenge events in 2013 and 2014.

One of the robots, called Pet-Proto, a predecessor of DARPA’s Atlas robot, can maneuver over and around obstacles, using “capabilities, including autonomous decision-making, dismounted mobility and dexterity.”

DARPA project leader Gill Pratt says the DRC is “about trying to use robots to improve the resiliency of the US and world to natural and man-made disasters.”

According to DARPA’s $2.8 billion budget for 2013, the US military’s research arm intends to invest $7 million in a project to create robotic partners for its soldiers.

The project, called the Avatar Project, was devised to “develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the solder’s surrogate,” DARPA announced.

Earlier this year, DARPA released a video of the robodog, which is capable of hauling a soldier’s gear and following the soldier using its “eyes” — which are actually sensors that can distinguish between trees, rocks, terrain obstacles, and people.