A couple weeks ago the discussion about TSA and their flawed implementation of the PreCheck program was all about how passengers could potentially see whether they were approved for the expedited screening in advance of arrival at the airport checkpoint. There was minimal discussion of the potential for customers to outright forge boarding passes, mostly because confirming that would likely require committing a felony. Fortunately the Washington Post didn’t sit back on the story. They’ve now confirmed that modifying the boarding passes is possible and that it has been done, bypassing the TSA’s ability to control who gains access to the Pre✓ lane.
Most worrisome is that the ability to restrict such forgeries is incredibly simple, to the point of being a trivial change. In fact, the airlines currently participating in program already have the technology in place. And the TSA has the systems at their checkpoints, too. By requiring a boarding pass to be digitally signed to allow access to the Pre✓ lane the bulk of the risk associated with this security hole could be mitigated. And it would be limited for real, not just in the imagination of the TSA officials who claim that the "layers" of security will serve as sufficient protection.
As it currently stands, someone on the no-fly list can easily get in to the secure part of an airport. And where Pre✓ exists they can do so through that expedited security screening facility. If that’s not a massive failure in implementation by the TSA then I don’t know what is.
- How the TSA has, again, failed on simple technology
- TSA blaming airlines for limited PreCheck success
- TSA says its OK; layers will protect us
- The TSA makes another stupid move