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ID Verification Remains a Vulnerability for Airports

04/03/2012 -

A video from The Daily shows how easy it is topurchase fake identification online convincing enough to dupe TSA officers. The fake IDs feature the same holograms and barcodes used by state licenses and are “virtually indistinguishable” from the real thing, The Daily reports.

The Daily purchased four fake IDs from a Web site based in China (The Chinese company took great lengths to make sure the IDs made it through customs. The payments can be wired anonymously and the customs label says the package contains “small fittings.” The licenses are hidden inside between stacks of stationery).

The Daily took the licenses, two British Columbia replicas and two Connecticut replicas to experts for analysis. On expert, Steve Williams, CEO of Intellicheck Mobilisa, a contractor for the Department of Defense, said the licenses would pass a visual inspection -- to the naked eye, a screener wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The Canadian licenses had both the official hologram and the official seal of British Columbia. The Connecticut replicas “were convincing enough to get whoever bought it onto a plane,” Williams said. The bar codes however, would not have passed electronic checks on the two British Columbia credentials.

The problem is that the technology exists to verify licenses electronically, but TSA relies solely on manual/visual verification, experts said.  “The only way they’re going to secure those checkpoints is to go directly to the DMVs or databases that issue those credentials,” Williams said. Intellicheck Mobilisa uses handheld readers with digital screens that can load a person’s license data and photo fromexisting databses after scanning bar code on the ID. All military bases use the readers.

The Daily said TSA and the Department of Homeland Security declined on-camera interviews for the story, but noted that TSA is developing a program to scan passenger IDs. Last September, TSA purchased 30Credential Authentication Technology Boarding Pass Scanning Systems to be deployed at airports this year for testing. But the program is only checking that existing security features are there, Janice Kephart, who served as counsel to the 9/11 Commission, told The Daily. The program isn’t designed to cross-reference the information with any existing state databases.