What This Hacker Claims He Did To An Airplane With Just His Laptop Is Alarming

Image for representational purposes only.

A search warrant issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that cybersecurity professional Chris Roberts told an agent he was able to control an airplane engine from his seat by gaining access to the computer system.

According to BBC News, the document asserts that Roberts, of One World Labs, was able to make the plane “climb” and “move sideways” with his laptop while seated. Roberts tweeted the following ahead of the flight:

05182015_Chris Roberts Flight Tweet_Twitter

IFE stands for “In Flight Entertainment.”

Wired Magazine gives the details of what happened after Roberts took a United flight from Chicago to Syracuse last month:

The Feds were waiting when Roberts landed in Syracuse. As passengers stood in the aisle to deplane, a flight attendant instructed everyone to take their seats. Two Syracuse police officers and two FBI agents boarded the plane. Before they even looked at him, Roberts knew they were after him. ‘Shall I get my luggage?,’ he asked.

He spent the next four hours in an airport conference room on the business end of an interrogation. Before he left, agents seized his company-issued laptop, backup disks and other electronics without a warrant.

When Roberts attempted to board another United flight to San Francisco days later, he was barred by the airline and had to book a flight with Southwest.

Roberts is now being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The FBI noted that Roberts “exploited” IFEs in airplanes between 2011 and 2014.

Wired Magazine noted that due to the incident, both the FBI and the TSA have issued warnings to passengers:

  • Report any suspicious activity involving travelers connecting unknown cables or wires to the IFE system or unusual parts of the airplane seat.
  • Report any evidence of suspicious behavior following a flight, such as IFE systems that show evidence of tampering or the forced removal of covers to network connection ports.
  • Report any evidence of suspicious behavior concerning aviation wireless signals, including social media messages with threatening references to Onboard Network Systems, ADS-B, ACARS, and Air Traffic Control networks.
  • Review network logs from aircraft to ensure any suspicious activity, such as network scanning or intrusion attempts, is captured for further analysis.

“Over the last 5 years my only interest has been to improve aircraft security…given the current situation I’ve been advised against saying much,” Roberts tweeted Saturday.

Still, Roberts has a sense of humor about the incident, retweeting the following photos:

05182015_Barrel Roll Tweet_Twitter

05182015_Chris Roberts Flight Tweet 1_Twitter 05182015_Roberts Retweet 1_Twitter
What do you think about this? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

TSA Agents In Denver Fired For Groping Male Passengers

Two agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who worked at the Denver International Airport (DIA) were terminated recently for conspiring to grope male passengers they deemed to be attractive.

KCNC reported Monday that a female agent would “signal” a male colleague when an attractive passenger came through the security checkpoint. According to a law enforcement report obtained by the network, the two worked together a dozen times to flag down passengers:

He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female.

When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows [the male TSA screener] to conduct a pat-down.

The TSA first heard the accusation last November from an anonymous tip within the agency; but it took three months to take action, according to reports.

TSA investigator Chris Higgins observed the two in the act on February 9. “At about 0925 he observed [the male TSA screener] appear to give a signal to another screener … [the second female screener] … [the second female screener] was responsible for the touchscreen system for the touchscreen system that controls whether or not the scanning machine alerts to gender-specific anomalies,” said a law enforcement report provided to KCNC.

Higgins also “observed [the female TSA agent] press the screening button for a female. The scanner alerted to an anomaly, and Higgins observed [the male TSA screener] conduct a pat down of the passenger’s front groin and buttocks area with the palm of his hands, which is contradictory to searching policy.”

After an interview, the now former female agent admitted to Higgins she had helped her male colleague perform this act “at least 10 other times.” Their names are not being released. The TSA released a statement condemning the former agents’ actions:

These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable. TSA has removed the two officers from the agency. All allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated by the agency. And when substantiated, employees are held accountable.

h/t: Ben Swann

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Does The TSA Have ANY Constitutional Authority To Search You?

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever thought about who could be a potential threat in an airport?

Well, according to the Transportation Security Administration, that’s pretty much anyone who’s breathing.

The TSA has kept its Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, checklist out of the public eye for quite a while; but on Friday, The Intercept published the 92-point checklist after a disgruntled TSA source divulged it.

The list of “observation techniques” shows how TSA agents are taught to use a scoring system to rank passengers according to potential threat levels including exaggerated yawning, excessive complaints about the screening process, widely open staring eyes, looking down, whistling while approaching the screening process, rubbing or wringing of hands, exaggerated or repetitive grooming gestures…

A former manager told The Intercept that the signs the guidelines say to watch for “are ridiculous.”

“These are just ‘catch all’ behaviors to justify BDO [Behavior Detection Officer] interaction with a passenger,” the former manager said. “A license to harass.”

Since the SPOT program started in 2007, it has cost more than $900 million, the GAO noted.

Although the outrage of innocent victims and those who are worried about becoming victims of government-sponsored abuse is palpable, what is not being discussed is that the TSA doesn’t have any constitutional authority to search you at all.

You see, the Fourth Amendment specifies that before any government authority can search or detain you, there must exist what is known as “probable cause.” Probable Cause only exists where a two-pronged test is met. The scenario goes like this: A government agent must have “reasonable suspicion” 1) that a crime has been committed; and 2) that the person to be searched or detained had something to do with the commission of the crime.

In the case of TSA airport searches, since no crime has been committed, neither prong of the two-pronged test is met. Therefore, no search or detention is permitted by the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

So while we argue about the SPOT checklist, the plain truth is that when there is no evidence of a crime, NO search is constitutionally permissible; and every time you are searched at an airport, no matter how it’s done, you are the victim of a crime committed by your government.


Learn more about your Constitution with Jake MacAulay and the Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.

Photo credit: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

How I Survived The Machete Attack At The New Orleans Airport (Hint: It Wasn’t The TSA)

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com  Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

There wasn’t anything notable about my flight from Dallas to New Orleans. I was headed to the Big Easy for a friend’s wedding, and the 1 hour flight would get me there just fine.

Upon exiting the plane, I waited for my wife to come back from the ladies room. All of a sudden I hear a huge commotion, notice some guy with his pants half down scrambling in the other direction, and out of nowhere a bearded man with a machete coming right at me.

What happened next was a blur: In the span of 5 seconds, I turn and run (with Machete Man chasing me), hear 3 shots echo through the concourse, and see said madman lying face down in a pool of blood.

As I caught my bearings and turned around, 2 police officers immediately removed the weapon from the area and handcuffed the man. Thank goodness for them.

The 2 TSA agents that I could see seemed completely oblivious to what just happened, including the lady who was shot.

News came out early this week that the TSA wants to have some of their personnel armed with firearms. This sounds like a terrible idea.

The TSA isn’t trained for emergency situations like machete attacks, and as evidenced by the photo below, they have no idea what just happened! I could imagine a perpetrator disarming an agent and then using their own firearm against them.

That idea makes me feel even less safe.

At the end of the day, these freak attacks are going to happen. For the police to be on the scene disarming and shooting the attacker within 30 seconds really is impressive.

I’d hate to think how long it would take a TSA agent to even get a firearm out of their holster, much less shoot and hit their target 3 times.

Photo credit: Ben Chapman

Photo credit: Ben Chapman

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

TSA Plan To Outsource PreCheck Would Let Companies Access Credit Card Data, Social Media Posts

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com  Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

The Transportation Security Administration has proposed the outsourcing of PreCheck to private companies, a proposal that would allow companies to access the credit card data and social media posts of those applying for the program.

PreCheck allows selected passengers to skip security lines at airports.

However, privacy advocates are alarmed that the TSA is turning over what should be a government responsibility to the private sector, which has less checks on it than the public sector.

Some, though, say that TSA does not have the necessary budget or personnel to continue to do the PreCheck program without help from outside companies.

Chris Calabrese, senior policy director at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington-based think tank, is not sure how the companies would use the information they collect about travelers.

He stated to the Washington Times:

If PreCheck says for whatever reason I am a higher-danger traveler, what is DHS or TSA supposed to do with that information? Should I be watch-listed? Should I be given a chance to contest? These are very hard questions with real consequences. If I’m a traveler who thinks I’m signing up for the fast lane and it turns out I’m really signing up for the ‘you get searched every single time you go through’ lane, it’s less customer service.

Advocates of the program think that private companies would help market PreCheck to more people and provide better customer service.

Patricia Rojas, vice president of government relations at the U.S. Travel Association, stated: “It’s a win-win proposition because it allows the U.S. government to take a more focused approach to our homeland security as opposed to the system that we originally developed where we basically just had a blanket review of everyone.”

What do you think? Should TSA place PreCheck in private hands or not?

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom