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New study proves just how worthless TSA airport body scanners really are

‟In laboratory tests with a real machine, we were able to conceal guns, knives, and explosive simulants in such a way that they were not visible to the scanner operator,” the report reads. ‟We also studied the cyberphysical security of the machine and were able to show how an attacker could subvert the operator console software so that it would be possible to conceal all types of contraband.” ( More...

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Larry Adams 12
Millions of American's rights of privacy and probable cause, have been violated, and not ONE terrorist have they caught or detected to date!
preacher1 6
Strange as it sounds, and as inept and hated as the TSA is, has it just been sheer dumb luck that we have NOT had a hijacking since 911, and I am not defending them by any means.
michael kenny 1
IMHO, one (only?) good to come from 9/11 is that hijacking a plane in America is now a losing proposition. 100+ passengers who will very quickly realize they have nothing to lose is a powerful deterrent. A hijacker knows he/she might get into the plane, but actually achieving an end goal will be near impossible. Failure, as I understand it, (and I don't) might mean that the promised 1001 Virgin's won't be provided.

Dumb luck? Probably some combination of things, including dumb luck, United 93, additional difficulties getting into a plane (whether that is designed by TSA or not) plus current efforts at destabilizing Iraq/Syria (hey, even terrorists have limited resources).
AWAAlum 3
Hopefully anyone considering such an event will realize they just may be the one at which point they run out of virgins. Gosh, just think about it, 1001 virgins for each and every terrorist who forfeits his life. That's a lotta virgins! I wanna know what the female terrorists win.
Cannikin 2
Actually, it's just 72 virgins, so they'll go a bit further.
michael kenny 1
I stand corrected.
BaronG58 1
I like the old joke...The terrorist are confused. They think they are going to meet-up with 72 virgins. Surprised when they are met by 72 West Virginians.
Eternal virginity?
Cannikin 1
Would passengers be able to gain access to flight decks with reinforced cockpit doors?
des quinn 0
No entry to cockpit as of 9/11
Cannikin 0
Difficult logic there. Just because it doesn't catch them does't mean it isn't deterring them from trying in the first place.
Ken Hardy 9
No surprise here, I was connected with the Airport security industry for many years as part of my Industrial x-Ray imaging business and once the TSA got up and running, they spent billions on junk technologies promoted by politically connected companies that knew they were dealing with technical morons and took full advantage of them. I personally witnessed a key committee Congressman tell a vendor he would make sure the funding was in place for a machine design that claimed capibilitys those of us in the imaging industry knew to be BS. Where Government/public money is involved, the hustlers come out of the woodwork to scam the public, it happens at all levels of Government because no one has or takes responsibility for protecting the wise use of tax dollars, as the old saying goes " It's not MY money " when in fact it's ALL our money, think 18,000,000,000,000 and climbing in public debt.
mikeenderle 8
I was a ramper at a larger airport for a while. I was security checked once in 12 months I worked there. I was the last one in contact with the aircraft before it took off. I could have done anything I wanted to an aircraft and brought anything onto an aircraft. What good is hundreds of millions of dollars of security up front only to leave the back door wide open. I am not the kind of person to want to do something like that but this is such joke. The illusion of safety... The only thing you need to bypass TSA is a clean record and a decent interview with an airline. The solution isn't new scanners or more funding. It is not declaring parts of country to be Constitution free zones where your rights are left at the door. The TSA is the definition of socialist tyranny. Politics can not be set aside in this issue either.
David Govan -1
Because of comments like this by people who claim the ability to circumvent security, TSA has now increased oversight of the comings and goings of ground service personnel.
dnorthern 6
You make it sound like a bad thing. Everyone who flies more than once a month realizes what Michael said is true.
AWAAlum 2
I've seen numerous reports on the news of TSA personnel picking up laptops, miscellaneous items from luggage, etc. Who oversees TSA?
Steve Kramer 7
A poster below mentioned El Al and their success. There is a simple answer: Please Profile Me! Forget people finding this offensive, we're trying to protect this country, if you don't like it, don't fly.
WavemanT 6
The Israelis use X-ray machines and other detectors too, but unlike the TSA, they do more. They ask questions and scrutinize how you respond more than what you say, looking for inflection, eye movements, facial expression, and so on. At Ben Gurion airport this is typically done while you're waiting in line, before you even get to the check in desk. As far as I can tell, it applies no matter what airline you're flying or where you're going. The only time I've ever had this done on the way out of the USA was when I was flying El Al.
The ElAl screeners interview each customer...they PROFILE. Anyone that has a Pre Ckeck, Equis or Global entry has been profiled....
I say PROFILE everyone....tough if it hurts your feelings. STAY HOME if you have fragile feelings.
May I add that the young man and the young woman who asked us some very simple question at Ben Gurion were also very polite and excused themselves, making sure we understood the need for this. There was no barking of commands like you can find elsewhere. I'm very sure that our reactions were also watched by specialists via the numerous cameras installed everywhere.
Kurt Anderson 2
You are correct. I have worked in law enforcement here in the US for over 30yrs. Basic academy stuff is when you are questioning anyone is not as much as what comes out of their mouths but to watch their eyes, arms, legs and overall body movement. It will give you the truth and has saved my life more than once.
Ed Berling 4
I've always looked at the TSA as more of a way to calm the flying public than an actual deterrent to any sort of terrorist threat. In other words, if the TSA wasn't there, no matter how ineffective their job is at stopping threats, if the flying public didn't see them on the job they wouldn't fly. The group that makes me smile the most is the police staff at most airports. It's like if you win the lottery for police staffing you get to work at the airport. Most (but of course not all) are overweight, they always seem to be sitting in the food court, or sitting right next to three other TSA agents, or sitting near the security check points. I seriously doubt if they'd be able to catch anyone under the age of 80 if they had to chase him or her down the concourse. It's almost like "we've got to put these people somewhere, might as well dump them at the airport!"
Jim Smirh 7
According to the "About" page for this source (the Daily Dot), it's "the Web’s most comprehensive source for original Internet-community news". If they are such a dependable source of "news" why is their copyright info out-of-date? Seems like they would have that info at their finger tips! "It's only typing!" To me it indicates sloppiness, at best and unreliability at worst. Just be happy they aren't involved in aviation! LOL!

As Abe Lincoln (I think it was) said, "The trouble with quotations on the Internet is that it's difficult to discern whether or not they are genuine." The Daily Dot is not a "news" source. :rolleyes: YMMV
Roger McHugh 2
argumentum ad hominem
AWAAlum 1
Interesting quote...let me think now... Lincoln-assassinated in 1865 / internet early practical schematics in the early 1960s. Oh wait, you probably meant a different Abe Lincoln.
There's a meme that has been on Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media sites with an image of President Lincoln and the text he quoted. It is meant to remind people that a lot of the "news" you read on the internet is false, since there is little journalistic integrity at stake.
Or he meant it as a joke.
AWAAlum 2
I guess I really need there to be a sarcasm font.
Comic Sans. :D
John Krause 2
This headline is a little misleading.
The study used Former body scanners which have been or are in the process of being removed from airports, and replaced by different technology.

If you are really attached to "worhtless", thenthe headline should At Least read;

"... how worthless former TSA airport body scanners really were"

"When the TSA pulled Rapiscan 1000 airport security scanners from airports last summer, ..."

"Luckily, due to the privacy concerns, the TSA scrapped the Rapiscan machines in favor of ones based on millimeter wave technology, which likely lack many of the same vulnerabilities identified in this study."
sparkie624 2
Very interesting.. Not surprising however...
George Parker 5
I'm sure the TSA is aware of the scanners vulnerabilities, but do we want everyone to be? I find it interesting how quickly were are to reveal weaknesses in our defence. One would never consider releasing a surreptitiously obtained play-plan of their favorite football team.
Roger McHugh 3
"I'm sure the TSA is aware of the scanners vulnerabilities, but do we want everyone to be?"

LOL I'm sure they're alarmed will promptly fix it.
Already fixed - these particular machines were removed from all airports more than a year ago.
Jim Lynch 3
In the US (as I am sure in other countries), unless the wheel squeaks it gets no grease. The world revolves on MONEY...if the "Powers" could keep such short-falls to themselves do you really think they would spend any money to fix it? Or let the rest of us go on thinking it was fool-proof?
I've read articles before that talk about successful burglary techniques and use enough of an explanation that if I wanted to rob a house, I'd already have a head start. I've also seen news reports that talk about security issues in computers, about vulnerabilities in military systems and procedures. It makes me wonder how stupid people can be sometimes to just broadcast how someone else might do something to hurt us or take from us.We might as well write an article that says, 'Here's how to do it.'
Well, what about the guy who exposed a security flaw on Facebook, pointed it out, and was rightfully due some reward/prize for doing so, and was rebuffed by FB, saying it wasn't an important-enough flaw, he didn't jump through the requisite hoops, etc., and was denied his reward.

So he hacked Zuckerberg's page to expose it quite publicly.

*THEN* and only then was the hole patched.

"Security" by simply stating "Our System Is Secure" isn't security at all.
sparkie624 -5
Of course the TSA is, but they are led by liberal idiots who don't really care.
I believe these scanners were pitched and installed by republicans.
Jimmy Robinson -1
Written by a Democrat, I'm sure. However, politics need to be kept out of this. This is an aviation forum, not a place for political discussion and opinion.
Right on Jimmy, I just hope everybody will keep internal US politics out of this forum.
Thanks. There's enough mud being slung in the news and practically everywhere else. No need in 'dirtying' up FlightAware too.
But I have to admit that my formulation was not really good, as some of our Australian or Canadian friends are guilty as well.
podgerog 3
You know that man you hate - you look more like him every day.

This is quite the saddest exchange I've ever read on this site. Usually comments seem balanced and informed on aspects of aviation appropriate and proportionate to the article. This appears not to be the case here except for a few. I'm appalled and saddened.

Oh and I'm from the UK and overrun with Jihadists we are not.
You're right, and political discussion seems to be working it's way into this aviation forum more and more. That's sad.
You're the one who's right, IMO. If one doesn't bring up politically related stuff, it normally won't be answered in a political way. If you bring up political views, there's no doubt in my mind it will be answered in the oposing political view that the subject was brought up in. Pretty simple to me.....
framk proszek 1
the most common man's first name in the UK for the last 5 years was mohammed. Go find an American to help you decide if you are over run or not.
Peter Thompson -1
No offense, my friend, but have you seen the stats on UK (or UK educated) folks involved with the problems with the new wave of jihadists in the middle east lately? The only reason I bring that up is because of what you say in the post I'm replying to. Cast no stones when you may have them tossed back at you :)
podgerog 5
No offence taken. I don't deny that people from the UK have joined these movements or that people with such execrable beliefs are here. However, compared to the number of perfectly peaceful people of all faiths and none that do not hold those beliefs, it is tiny. All countries have their destructive element. They tend to be the most vocal. It is important to counter them with a more balanced view and show that they are a minority. I have lived in communities of just about every faith, though I have none, and every colour. They lived together, shopped together and accepted each other as part of that community. You always find negativity if you look for it but fewer people look for the positives and work toward them and I am no optimist.

I like to come here to read about aviation, I can get the other stuff elsewhere.
Tom Wilhite 2
There is something flawed in a system that's takes was taking away the very small Swiss Army knife brand fingernail file yet allows knitting needles aboard.
Can we say oxymoron Children.
dj horton 1
Ooh ooh, I can say oxymoron! But can YOU define it? Because what you've described isn't an oxymoron, it's a contradiction.
Shaun S 3
Jumbo shrimp? (sorry everybody)
Caleb Gordon 2
Worthless article. These scanners are long gone from 99% of airports. Maybe they should spend thousands of more dollars researching new security measures than trying to "crack" machines that are no longer used in most, soon to be all airports across the US...smh
Greg Zelna 2
Hmm, every flight I've taken in the past 6 months used full body scanners. Every one.
TSA still uses millimeter wave scanners, the ones with the "arms" that spin around you and scan just about everything except the top of you head and the soles of your feet. The ones mentioned in the article were the backscatter machines that have already been removed from every airport.
I don't fly often, anymore, but I've only had 1 full body scan in the last 5 years and during that period, I've flown more than I had during the previous 20 years. I guess some of that scanning may come from where one lives, perhaps?
Jeff Reader 1
Not what we wanted to hear, but are we really surprised !!
Jan Esbra 1
A man was mailed in a box, by plane......and even he passed by scanners, he got to the billed adress.
I get it. Does TSA get it? Please figure out how to devote our resources to clearly identify the bad guys and those countries which send commercial aircraft (passenger & cargo) to the US to be equally technologically viligent.
Kurt Anderson 1
The problem is not with the scanners, it is with the TSA people monitoring them. Most of the time they look so bored they are about to fall over. No wonder it's a snap to get things past them.
oowmmr 1
Well the TSA caught my iddy bitty key deal that looks like a key when closed and has a 1/2" long, un-sharpened section as a cutting tool. Useless but was a gift I'd gotten used to. Made it on a few flights. Boy was the TSA proud of that one. Quizzing me on me job, whereabouts and wheretos.
I use to be chief of gate security at Detroit Metrow Airport and you have no idea how many things we found at the gate check point...
By the way the way it was the Government that decided to get rid of the second check point....I think that decision will bite them on the know what...
Colin Seftel 2
Wouldn't someone who was employed at Detroit Metro know how to spell the name?
AWAAlum 1
I'm kinda wondering why the article was written at all. It's about a machine it claims is no longer in use.
ALL of this is show....if you think you are safe you might just be. As for me....I just hope I am ready to go home.....
TSA is not the answer...PROFILE them ALL...moms, dads, kids, EVERYONE....period.
Political Correctness id the what if you hurt their feelings....we could ALL live if we did hurt their feelings.
BTW, I personally knew the people killed in 9-11 attacks....this crap does NOT work.
rmchambers 1
Considering the operators running it, they are lucky to catch anything, other than their own stealing stuff out of bags.
TSA stealing? That's a new one for me though I can't, in all honesty, say it doesn't happen. I CAN say it's never happened to me, my wife, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, my in-laws, my friends, and I can go on an on.........
Ronald Hewitt 0
All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are muslim
David Barnes 7
Timothy McVeigh.
William Hall 2
rmchambers 0
I'd be interested to see a breakdown of terrorist attacks listed with their perpetrators. I think Ronald is on the right track.. change all to almost all and he'd be spot on.
True on the first assumption and somewhat true on the 2nd.....amazing what a twist of wording can produce, isn't it? :)
Lets get a little baby pig & put one on every airplane..............
Think this would work better than Profiling?
After being in banking for 20 years and law enforcement before then, I've got to disagree with you on profiling. In my opinion, profile every group out there who has made it a point to do America harm. On the other hand, why profile American grandma's from the heartland? There's a small, select group of folks who wish harm on our country and if we have to profile all from that select group, I'm all for it.
Or give everyone on board a ham sandwich? If someone doesn't want to eat it, then "I'm sorry, but your ticket price will be refunded - right after the FBI finishes interviewing you."
AWAAlum 2
So if they're Jewish they can't fly?

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preacher1 3
Bad as I hate to say it, there wasn't a Dept. of Homeland Security or TSA on 911

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preacher1 5
"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the United States and its territories (including protectorates) from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, and natural disasters. "
Argue with Wiki, not me and there definitely was no TSA. Don't know about you but I lived it. I believe I know about it and I could care less about NYC. The only good feeling I ever had about that part of the world was the good feeling I got when it was disappearing behind me.

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AWAAlum 6
I listen, PAL. You would do yourself a service if you would read and not post.

November 19, 2001
Transportation Security Administration, Date founded

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Marie Benham 0
I strongly believe in the right of free speech BUT there should be some COMMON SENSE, an agreed upon limit with all kinds of media and communications -- Diane Sawyer comes on the evening news and they show how you just wiggle a car window until it opens enough to gain access inside. The next morning I discover some moron has done exactly that trying to get into our vehicle parked in the driveway outside.

You never truly know what someone else is thinking, thus you may know know those who might secretly be so inclined towards criminality or even home-grown terrorism. (Well, some are obvious but not all.)

Every time I see articles or news reports like these that provide criminally-inclined minds (not just terrorists) good examples of how to evade standard attempts keep citizens safe, I wonder that we are even still alive -- our country is so good at giving info like this to everyone. There is a portion of the criminal contingent who may be fairly unimaginative, at least until they are told and shown exactly how to do this.

All I am trying to convey is that there should be noted a subtle difference between free speech as opposed to shouting to the entire world (hope your enemies or fiends are not paying attention) and providing anyone who knows how to read the information to destroy our way of life.
AWAAlum 1
You're right, Marie, and I've often thought the very same thing. The only thing is, just about anything you want to find out about is on the internet. So it practically becomes a moot point.
Marie Benham 2
Agreed about the internet. There is no simple solution.

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Steve Cooke 4
Except that EL AL and Tel Aviv Airport security think anyone who has brown skin is a Muslim.
Ben Gurion Airport is the only one where I saw a brown skin foreigner (Indian, I think) finding it more difficult getting OUT of Israel than getting IN. I guess even in Israel there some people as stupid & clueless as some in TSA.
That's the danger of blind profiling, I guess. It would be interesting to know the percentage of these errors versus the percentage of false readings by machines, like not catching dangerous objects or "seeing" dangerous objects that do not exist.
Profile what needs to be profiled to keep the rest of us law abiding folks safe. If Americans need profiling, by all means do it. If middle easterners need profiling, by all means do it. There's no such thing as "blind profiling" in law enforcement or there wasn't when I was in profile what needs to be profiled.

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How do you determine if someone is a muslim when they buy a ticket?

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Since when the religion of a person is indicated in passports of democratic countries?

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Who says that Molly Oxlong from Kitchener, Ontario is not a muslim?
Why not just a yellow crescent sown on their clothes, like the nazies did with the jews. (sarcasm alert)

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And being muslim is a race?

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Sorry folks, I forgot, we're not supposed to feed the trolls.

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gma92 6
don't be a troll
gmcmanus 8
Why? Are all Muslims radical? In case you haven't noticed Phil, most all religions have radical groups that cause destruction and use terrorism in some way or another.
PaulN2719 5
Just like not all Christians are right wing conservative homophobes...but you'd never know that to listen to the mainstream media!
preacher1 0
No, you won't hear that listening to the media but they'll sure jump in on the Westboro bandwagon anytime they pull off anything.

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JetMech24 8
Right, white guys with red hair just park vans full explosives at federal buildings instead, that's sooo much better. Grow up Mike.
preacher1 2
They may not be hijacking and crashing planes yet, but Foley's executioner was a Brit, and they are saying that may foreigners have gone into the ranks of ISIS. It's gonna get interesting.
rmchambers 1
The UK government have already stated that a large number of UK born jihadists have gone over for training and are now back in the UK. They are in for a rough ride.
preacher1 -1
Well, the denying Muslims boarding is not the only thing El Al does, BUT, right, wrong, or indifferent, they haven't had a hijacking. Giving the TSA devil it's due, since it's formation, they have either, but they are a hell of a lot more expensive.
preacher1 0
I don't know about any denying muslims boarding by El Al or any other airline that flies into Tel Aviv, but I do know that Israel relies a lot less on machines, but more on people trained to observe the passengers. Of course, selling machines to the government is a lot more profitable than to train qualified personnel.
AWAAlum 1
As recently as ISIS activities topping the news, there are reports of at least two Americans among its members. And the animal who beheaded James Foley spoke with a British accent.

There goes your useless profiling idea.
JJ Johnson -1
The Israel State airline EL AL has been dealing with terrorists way before we in America had a clue. They profile young Muslim Arab men. The TSA is feel good but basically worthless politically correct security theater.

Border jumping Mexicans fly without ID however. We look like clowns. We will pay for it. Soon. End of story.
And how do they know that Johnny Appleseed from Dayton Ohio is not a muslim? Profiling based on stereotypes does not work. What EL AL actually do is behavioural screening, and that works.
AWAAlum 2
It's criminal how we treat one another and our home known as Earth.
framk proszek 0
So why are you telling everybody? I'm a citizen flyer and was doing just fine without this knowledge. I trust that since YOU folks in charge know of the problem you are quietly fixing it. Remember when the New Your times published a story about how our CIA was tracking osama bin laden's satellite cell phone? The next day every cell phone within 20 miles of bin laden was destroyed. Why did they publish that info? The editor and owner are lucky I am not in charge, they would never be seen again.
framk proszek 0
I read the 9/11 report. The airlines were warned of the pilot cabin door's weakness. They claimed it would have been too costly and time consuming to strengthen the doors! I'm a handyman, I'll reinforce that door in 12 minutes with a battery drill, a latch, and a few pieces of strap steel. Or, How about the pilot release sleepy gas to stop a takeover? I had it when I was 8 yrs old with no effects.


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