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Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from UC San Diego, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins say they've found security vulnerabilities in full-body backscatter X-ray machines deployed to U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013. In lab tests, the researchers were able to conceal firearms and plastic explosive simulants from the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner, plus modify the scanner software so it presents an "all-clear" image to the operator even when contraband was detected. "Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said lead researcher J. Alex Halderman. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."
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Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:11PM (#47714495)

    I'm not sure voluntarily going on a plane is the government violating your right to privacy.

    Well then, what about a government restricting your freedom of movement by forcing you to give up your right to privacy if you desire to travel? I am not saying it is not a nuanced issue — it is, and needs to be debated — but typing a flippant comment as you have done does not end the discussion.

  • by RobinH (124750) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:18PM (#47714561) Homepage
    At this point nobody's going to be surprised if any device tested has blatant security flaws. The only interesting story would be if someone found a device with no actual flaws. That would be news.
  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:23PM (#47714601) Homepage Journal

    Yes, it is. The 4th amendment says

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    They are not getting warrants, there is no probable cause unless getting on a plane is probable cause to believe you are going to destroy it. There is no Oath or affirmation and no description of the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

    People do not seem to realize that your rights are given to you by your creator and the constitution only reaffirms that and states that the government can not violate those rights. It does not give you the rights and does not say anything about permission to violate because you enter a store, airport, car, train station, or the bathroom of your own house.

    There is a right way and a wrong way to do this, if they wanted it to be Constitutional they could have created an amendment that allowed the acceptation, voted on it, ratified it amongst the states, and then enforced it. Instead they ignored the Constitution, threw the existing law of the land out the window and the government did as they pleased. It is wrong, it is a violation of law, and a violation of the Constitution!

    BTW, this would not be an issue or illegal if it was still private security at the airport. The second they put Government Security Agents (TSA) in place it became unconstitutional.

    And now I bet I am on the no-fly list for this post. Another unconstitutional action the government takes.

  • by danbert8 (1024253) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:34PM (#47714695)

    It wasn't a failure of security that caused 9/11, it was a failure of policy. The by the book way to deal with a hijacking was to comply with the terrorists with the idea that they just wanted the passengers and plane for ransom, not to use the plane itself as a weapon. Today the pilots would intentionally crash the plane before they would allow the hijackers control over the aircraft.

  • by GlennC (96879) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:35PM (#47714697)

    Let's look it up....http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html [archives.gov]

            "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    Since there is no "Right to Travel" listed earlier in the Constitution, it is not explicitly denied here.

    Unlike most codes of law in the United States, the Constitution does not generally apply to individual citizens. Rather, the Constitution defines and codifies the Federal government, and is generally accepted to be the limit of Federal and State powers and responsibilities.

    Finally, I remember that when I was younger (mind you, this was back in the 1970's), having to provide identification and being subjected to searches before being able to travel was the scope of godless Communists and tinpot dictators.

    That we have come to this point is a sad commentary on the United States. That many others not only accept this but actively defend it is even more disappointing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:36PM (#47714707)

    The constitution is not a 'whitelist'!

    9th Amendment:

            The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    10th Amendment

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @03:58PM (#47714931)

    Today the pilots would intentionally crash the plane before they would allow the hijackers control over the aircraft.

    Passengers had also been conditioned to just stay in their seats and be calm. That would never happen today. Even on 9/11, the passengers on Flight 93 figured out that it was fight back or die trying.

    One of the reasons that AQ did all four hijackings simultaneously, is that they knew they would never be able to exploit the same vulnerabilities again.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:52PM (#47716403)

    Really? The public demanded? Who? Where? When? All I remember is scaremongering from the press and politicians telling us that the sky is about to fall and how they need to protect us.

    I honestly cannot remember a single instance where anyone demanded to trade his liberties for "safety".

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