Friday, October 27, 2006

The Northwest Airlines Boarding Pass Generator

Now comes one Christopher Soghoian who wants to raise awareness of a major flaw in airport security: TSA visually inspects your boarding pass, but does not use a scanner to verify online that the document is valid.

So Chris now offers the Northwest Airlines Boarding Pass Generator, which creates a valid-looking boarding pass that you can print at home. For instance, here's a first class seat I've generated for Ronald McDonald:

  1. Long before 9/11, I wondered about allowing people to print boarding passes at home or office. Since Christopher has demonstrated how easy it is to spoof a boarding pass, expect to see TSA adding scanners at the security checkpoint.
  2. After the recent liquid explosives scare, the TSA has relaxed rules a bit to allow you to purchase a bottled water inside the secure area. Now that this raises the question of whether the secure area is secure, Christopher's demonstration may cause a lot of dehydrated passengers.
  3. The ads Google is serving up on Christopher's site are for X-ray scanners.
  4. It's good that Soghoian is an uncommon name; fortunately, few people will be inconvenienced when TSA adds Christopher to their watch list.