Airport security part 1: Bluetooth, switchblades and -- wireless X-rays?

Summary:Airport security is obviously a major concern in our country, and I've made some observations that I'd like to share from my recent travels.February and March has turned out to be an insane travelling road show for me.

Airport security is obviously a major concern in our country, and I've made some observations that I'd like to share from my recent travels.

February and March has turned out to be an insane travelling road show for me. When March completes, I will have spoken at Black Hat twice (Washington D.C. and Amsterdam), met with numerous clients in Indiana, Minnesota, California, and Seattle, travelled to Houston a number of times to catch up with the Ernst & Young Advanced Security Center guys (where I'm employed), and somewhere in that mix I actually went snowboarding in Utah.

What I've learned during this time is that I hate flying.

Also, I noticed several things that really concern me about airport security. The following events occurred at various airports during my travels:

  • Other people's Mac books trying to bluetooth associate to mine
  • A passenger try to go through the security line with pretty much every personal care product that you could imagine, a knife (I swear, it was a switchblade and it was in his carry on), and something that looked like a mini car battery
  • A wireless access point near the X-ray machines called 'bagcheck'
  • A pilot entered the airport in a random hallway through a door that looked like an emergency exit that actually led to a parking lot
  • etc.

People's Mac books trying to Bluetooth associate to mine was slightly disconcerting as I had recently enabled it to pull a file from a friend at Black Hat. Fortunately I still had confirmation notices that didn't allow a file to be uploaded to me, but I certainly turned Bluetooth back off shortly thereafter.

The passenger with the switchblade and mini car battery (or whatever it was) was directly in front of me. I always feel bad for the TSA folks when I have to unload my three laptops, portable hard drive, wireless antenna, etc. but this guy was angry that they made such a big deal about his switchblade. (By the way, he wasn't even kind enough to bag up his personal care products.) Then the lady pulls out this battery thing and security guys swoop in and carry the guy away. It was a bit surreal.

Clearly if the wireless 'bagcheck' network is what it looks like, one would think it is a terrible idea to connect the X-ray machines, etc. to a wireless network. What was really concerning was that there was a lot of traffic on the network, so even though it was using WEP, I would likely have had enough traffic to actually crack the key. I'm still pretty stunned by this. I'll only speculate as to what would've been possible. As they say, curiosity killed the cat, and I do value my life :).

The pilot just walking in through a random emergency exit door is probably the scariest of the bunch. There was this parking lot I could see outside the door when he came in, and it wasn't even all fenced in or anything. I'd like to hope that not just anyone can drive to this location, but it would seem pretty simple to get a pilot outfit, wait in the parking lot for a legitimate pilot to come in and just piggy back his entry. No security check occurred.

With all this in mind, it's absurd that I had to throw away my hair gel since it was 5 oz. and not 4 oz.

--Nate

Topics: Hardware, Networking, Security, Wi-Fi

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