TSA drops the ball…again

I travel every week and TSA never ceases to amaze me. Their security screening processes are so antiquated and inefficient. Their first blunder was allowing GAO investigators to successfully sneak bomb parts past security screener’s. By the way, I remember flying a day or two after this report broke and security screening was impossible.

While I don’t claim to know what’s going on at TSA, I’m pretty sure each employee writes their own handbook on screening and security procedures. Last year I traveled through 16 airports and maybe one or two of them had similar practices/requirements. Some don’t care about belts, others demand they be taken off or threaten ‘extra’ screening. I had one person tell me that he’d personally make sure I was in security for an extra 20 or 30 minutes if I didn’t take my phone holder off my belt (the phone was not in it) to walk through the scanner. Have I mentioned that TSA employees possess great people skills?

TSA’s second blunder has made it possible for unsuspecting citizens who use TSA’s web based tools to be victims of identity theft. Nicely done!

It turns out that it’s good to be friends with TSA employees because TSA has awarded a contract (without competition) to a web design firm that the awarding employee previously worked for and where he still maintains good friendships. What conflict of interest?!? According to a quote in a Washington Post article it sounds like TSA has awarded this company approximately $500,000 in business. I wonder how many of those projects also didn’t have any competition.

The contracts aren’t the issue, it’s the fact that the design firm built this ‘no fly’ list complaint tool but wasn’t securely transmitting the information from the web to the web servers. This security vulnerability exposes the personal information required by the tool (social security number, birth date, etc) to potential theft which could result in identity theft.

I guess the GAO got it wrong when they praised TSA for how it handled sensitive information.

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