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25 October 2006
  Airport (in)security for the masses
Bruce Schneier coined the term security theatre to describe security countermeasures that provide the feeling of security while doing little or nothing actually to improve security.

The entire airport/TSA experience is a classic example of this. Passengers are frisked, have their nail clippers confiscated, are required to remove their shoes, their belts, to put their toiletries in quart (but NOT! gallon) ziplock bags - all, essentially, so that we can see that TSA is doing something.

Yet, all the while, a tiny fraction (less than 5%) of checked bags are x-rayed, and positive matching of bag->passenger is only done for single leg flights. If you miss any of your connections (or walk out of the airport at the first stopping point), the airline will happily fly your ticking suitcase on to the next destination.

With that in mind - I now now present: Chris's Northwest Airlines Boarding Pass Generator

Using this, you can:

1. Meet your elderly grandparents at the gate
2. 'Upgrade' yourself once on the airplane - by printing another boarding pass for a ticket you're already purchased, only this time, in Business Class.
3. Demonstrate that the TSA Boarding Pass/ID check is useless.

Over the past few weeks, I've written a fair bit about Airport Security at my blog. This project stems from the research I've been documenting there.

The goal of this is to prove that the ID/boarding pass check, as currently done by TSA, is deeply flawed, and is trivial to bypass. If we want to make ourselves safer, ziplock bags and 8 dollar an hour security guards checking IDs is not the way forward.

Have fun, and be careful.
This is practical for legitimate reasons, too. Without Chris' improvement, you can only print boarding passes 24 hours prior to departure. I seldomly travel with a printer and do not want to mess with hotel faxes, so I always have to print boarding passes for my return flight at the airport. Now I don't! Thanks, Chris, for helping all NWA passengers!
Good work! We need to give extra attention to young muslim males, and expand the profile if the attackers switch mules. Thanks for helping to break through the PC barriers!
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