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Court Acquits Student From Generating Fake Boarding Passes

A college student at Indiana University has created a Website that provides people with fake online boarding passes. But he said that he wouldn't be taken to court. Talking about the investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana, Christopher Soghoian wrote on his 'blog' on November 28, 2006 that the investigation had come to halt due to lack of criminal evidence.

Christopher Soghoian posted the source on October 25, 2006 attempting to attract notice to an airport security flaw that has been neglected since long. In just three, days the FBI agents ransacked Soghoian's home and seized his computers and the passports he generated.

The agents found that he used his tool to let printing of fake boarding passes that could evade the "no-fly" list. This list is the government's key device in warding off suspected terrorists from boarding airplanes.

According to Wendy Osborne, a spokesperson for the FBI's Indianapolis office, the FBI investigation could not find any federal violation. The investigation combed well into the matter and the office was sure that there was no risk of national security. Therefore, they ceased to pursue with the case. The federal officials even returned Soghoian his computers and passports.

Soghoian's 'boarding pass generator' revealed a loophole in the 'Transportation Security Administration's policy'. The policy is used to eliminate passengers on the basis of the "no-fly" list. The loophole is with respect to the point where boarding passes are compared with the passenger's ID. As per the rules, checking is done only at 'initial airport security checkpoints', not at the gates where passengers board the planes. And later, the boarding passes are verified only at departure gates, not at security checkpoints.

Soghoian who is working on 'cyber security' said it was easy and took him only 20 minutes to give shape to the scheme. Calling it a legitimate research, he said that his objective was not to malign the government but to draw its attention to issues that can make flying safer.

Soghoian notes that although he is happy the incident is over but it has not made airport security better.

Related article: Court Sentences Utah University Student For Hacking

» SPAMfighter News - 12/2/2006

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