Fake Boarding Passes Fixed?
It was only last week that we learned of a problem with bogus boarding passes. In what was a relatively simple work around for a potential terrorist, what were needed were a home computer, a printer and some skill with HTML. On the one hand, it’s a pretty scary situation of simplicity circumventing all of the added security since September 11th along with the inconveniences and long lines. And taking to opposing point of view is Bruce Schneier who argues that cockpit security doors were more important than any of the other measures that were taken. But this boarding pass loophole as it is referred to is now the subject of a newly announced effort newly announced test program to use virtual boarding passes. Once up and running it will be introduced to eleven airports, enabling passengers to download boarding information to their PDAs or cell phones.
The electronic boarding pass pilot enables passengers to download their boarding pass on their cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs). This innovative approach streamlines the customer experience while heightening the ability to detect fraudulent boarding passes. Each paperless boarding pass is displayed as an encrypted two-dimensional bar code along with passenger and flight information. TSA security officers use hand-held scanners to validate the authenticity of the boarding pass at the checkpoint.Late last week TSA and American Airlines announced a program at LAX (already in place at O'Hare in Chicago and Wayne Orange County airports). Of course, the use of this new “convenience” is limited to those with Internet addressable PDAs or cell phones. Among the remaining questions is when other security measures that are not digitally dependent will be adopted to ensure the authenticity of critical documents like a simple boarding pass.