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TSA's Sloppy Redacting Reveals All

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the hire-a-competent-clerk-why-don'tcha dept.

Security 605

A travel blog breaks the story of a poor job of redacting by the TSA: they posted a PDF of airport screening policies, with certain sections blacked out — not realizing that simply laying a black rectangle over the text is hardly sufficient. Cryptome has posted a copy with the redaction removed (ZIP).

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Actual Link to the zip (4, Informative)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361872)

http://cryptome.org/tsa-screening.zip [cryptome.org] The actual link.

Re:Actual Link to the zip (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361950)

And a mirror here [freetard.com] (from TFA's comments) in case the above goes belly-up due to the Slashdot effect.

Re:Actual Link to the zip (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362044)

    Since they mangled the link in the story, I'm pretty sure it's mostly Slashdot-effect-proof. Or I guess that would be slashdoteffectproof. :)

Re:Actual Link to the zip (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30361958)

If the individual’s photo ID is a passport issued by the Government of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, or Algeria, refer the individual for selectee screening...

Worst. Link. Ever. (0, Redundant)

hedronist (233240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361960)

So is kdawson on drugs? Is s/he not on drugs but should be? Does s/he even know what the intertubes are? Can we find peace in our time? Or, horny as we are, can we even find a piece in our time? If we found a piece would we find peace?

So many questions ....

Re:Actual Link to the zip (1)

TejWC (758299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362026)

They posted the malformed link just to prevent censorship via the slashdot effect.

Sloppy Slashdot editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362040)

Sloppy Slashdot editors...

Re:Sloppy Slashdot editors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362070)

Sloppy Slashdot editors...

Sloppy? I thought the move of not quite facilitating the spreading of state secrets was a pretty cute move actually.

Re:Actual Link to the zip (5, Funny)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362048)

dude, you zipped a pdf....
thats almost as bad as when my mom puts a jpg in a doc to email it.

Re:Actual Link to the zip (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362320)

dude, you zipped a pdf....thats almost as bad as when my mom puts a jpg in a doc to email it.

When you're expecting several tens of thousands of people to download it in a short time period -- every kilobyte helps.

Select All (2, Funny)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361874)

ctrl-a is a bitch, huh?

Re:Select All (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361918)

Whats the penalty for subverting a copy prevention measure?

Re:Select All (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362146)

Death penalty in some cases, but it would require a strong case proving treason.

The real link to the cryptome file (3, Informative)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361882)

Re:The real link to the cryptome file (1, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361902)

Damn. The line between informative and redundant is measured in seconds.

Re:The real link to the cryptome file (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361932)

Silly people, put it as a background if you don't want people to read it! (apparently HTML table tags and slashdot aren't friends though. :-(

Re:The real link to the cryptome file (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362068)

FFS, don't mod the fucker down - the dude's trying to provide the link. Fucktards with mod points.

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30361884)

And /. editors' broken link reveals all

Well, at least the rest don't do this. (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361894)

I know people who work in the US government. As I understand it, when releasing material that is partially blacked out, in most departments the procedure is to simply black it out on a hard copy and then photocopy the hard copy or scan it if it is to go online. This removes any chance of clever ways of getting the data if there's something about the file format or such that is strange. I don't see why the TSA wouldn't do the same thing. Moreover, isn't the fact that you can do this with PDFs well known? I've even seen it used as a way of covering up spoilers. What were they thinking?

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361914)

I don't see why the TSA wouldn't do the same thing.

For the same reason they make you take your shoes off? For the same reason they have so many ineffective security policies that busy airports often have security checkpoint lines containing more people than a plane, which makes for extremely easy bombing targets (no security!)? Clueless, inept, and there to absorb money and power.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362050)

The reason security checkpoint lines and their larger crowd of people isn't as much of a threat as a plane, is because it takes a much smaller bomb to kill all the people on the plane. The plane is what kills people, not the bomb that cripples the planes ability to transport hundreds of people safely at an altitude of miles and high speed. (just read that on Shneier's page)

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362112)

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362254)

Here, I can wash that out of your mind with this [miamiyouvegotstyle.com] (don't blame me for ruining your sanity though.) The really scary thing is I found this as an actual book that someone paid money to print, in a book store. It reminds me of the joke from Lewis Black about what causes aneurysms [squidoo.com] .

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2, Interesting)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362118)

Uhh...the people in a checkpoint line are far more densely packed than people on a plane, so ignoring that factor in your analysis is a bit of a mistake. Not to mention that, as the GP said, there's no security (or at least none that would stop a luggage bomb) before you reach the checkpoint, so size isn't a huge issue.

But ignoring all of that the goal of terrorism is to cause terror, and where do people feel safer, a plane, or the security line before a plane?

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362178)

"the people in a checkpoint line are far more densely packed than people on a plane" - You're either joking or travelling first class but I agree the security line is a sitting duck.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (1)

terjeber (856226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362290)

Even though I don't agree with the stupid security "measurements" taken, this is just absurd and not particularly well thought through.

It does take a significant sized bomb to kill, say 200, people in a security line. Even if they are densely packed at the time. It takes a very, very small bomb to kill the same amount of people once they are on the plane. Even if they are far less densely packed. The bomb it self may only kill one, or even zero people. The plane hitting the ground after dropping 10K feet on the other hand...

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362114)

    It's not clueless and inept. It's the illusion of security. Take off your shoes. Put your liquids in a clear bag. Stand here while we do a cursory search of your carry on luggage. It's to make the general population *FEEL* secure, not to actually secure them. Have you looked in their trash bin of confiscated items? It's all stuff that wouldn't sell at a yard sale. Their "explosive" detectors are a joke. And backscatter xrays? I went through one. Because of the way my shirt was sewn, it looked like I was wearing suspenders. 15 minutes to explain that it was just a shirt. How about recent tests where only 25% of the tests done passing obvious dangerous items (bombs, knives, guns, etc) through security were caught?

    They still allow objects with more serious potential through. A laptop as a blunt force instrument? The potential energy stored in a laptop battery? The RF radiation created by handheld electronics? The fact that a highschool football player could overpower the flight crew and air marshals? They worry about that tube of toothpaste. What if 100 of the tickets for a flight were booked by terrorists? Good luck for the rest of the passengers to overpower them.

    But, the people demanded higher security, so they get the illusion of higher security.

    Now, take off your shoes, and play along with the security theater.
 

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362130)

Security theater isn't inherently bad. People get scared very easily. We could say "sure, we've added in some minor stop gaps but the main result is that we hope if you get hijacked you'll do your patriotic duty to stop the hijackers or barring that bringing the plane down. And bombings? We aren't very concerned about them. Such events have been very rare for a long time." People wouldn't respond rationally to that. So instead we add steps that are ostentatious and feel like security. The result is people behave more reasonably and use airplanes they wouldn't otherwise do so. This is a cynical but strong argument for security theater.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362234)

    No, your views aren't cynical. They're realistic. Unfortunately, we (the gov't with our tax dollars) are spending so much to enhance the illusion, that could be better spent elsewhere. But, the TSA isn't going away any time soon, and "security" measures will continue, even though they are entertaining at best.

    I had a nice talk with a TSA agent once. I had time to waste, and he was going through the drill. It was obvious that he understood his job was just to maintain the illusion. We both understood that if air travel is the path of most resistance, a real terrorist would choose the path of least resistance. There are so many options, and even in a total police state those methods wouldn't be fool proof. Consider the underground movements during WWII in Europe. Even in occupied cities with Axis troops on every corner, the resistance was able to not only subvert their security by moving people in and out, but they were able to stage resistance attacks (as we'd now know as terrorist attacks). But as it goes, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362242)

Most people at airports dont seem afraid, or reassured, they tend to simply be irritated at what the average citizen can recognize as silly and ineffective.

I dont know what part of the population the TSA hopes to fool, but its not the majority.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Interesting)

JimboG (1467977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362302)

Forget the laptop battery... On most planes there is a canister of chemicals stored above every seat that when mixed produces oxygen. Combine that with some duty-free Bacardi 151 (You know, the one with the flame retardant top) and the cigarette lighter you bought just before the flight and you could make you're own very effective little bomb right on the plane itself! All these so called security measures are a joke, when things like spirits and cigarette lighters are still allowed on flights. TSA... I'm not even going to start thinking about those morons. It just gets me all angry.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (5, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362336)

Have you looked in their trash bin of confiscated items?

This bit actually says it all.

1) You're not allowed to bring liquids above a certain quantity for fears it might be part of an explosive device
2) Throw said components into an open trash can
3) Repeat 1 and 2 until you hit critical mass
4) Throw an igniter into the trash can
5) Big boom

When's the last time you saw the police or military treat a package like that, when they suspect it might be an explosive? It never happens. They take very serious steps to prevent injuries, going as far as blowing up small bags of bikinis.

But at the airport, where you have hundreds of people standing in line, you're supposed to just toss it all into an open container next to the line. Security indeed.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362132)

For the same reason they have so many ineffective security policies that busy airports often have security checkpoint lines containing more people than a plane, which makes for extremely easy bombing targets (no security!)?

There are lots of places where many people gather together. The critical difference is that those places don't also contain several thousand gallons of jet fuel, and you you can't fly them into a skyscraper.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362282)

1. Don't open cockpit door.
2. Light fasten seatbelt sign.
3. ????? (do a barrel roll, steep climb/dive/banking or parabolic arcs)
4. Don't fly into skyscraper, do collect badly injured terr'ists.
5. Profit.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (4, Insightful)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362180)

Obviously the solution is a security line for the security line. That way the security line can't be bombed. Duh.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362232)

Just like how some people ask why they don't make planes out of the same material black boxes are made out of...

Why don't we just make the security lines out of the same material black boxes are made out of? Or, better yet, why not make people bomb-proof? That way, a lot of these security issues would become moot.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362280)

Mostly power. The money is a bonus.

You will be controlled.

Know your overlords!

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361938)

I doubt they were thinking...

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362028)

There is a built-in redaction feature in Acrobat 9 Pro. It saves you the trouble of photocopying the original (maintaining fonts / text / graphics etc in their full quality). We looked into redacting info on PDF's and I was pleasantly surprised to find Adobe had added the feature. Options include choosing the redaction text.

Re:Well, at least the rest don't do this. (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362054)

As I understand it, when releasing material that is partially blacked out, in most departments the procedure is to simply black it out on a hard copy and then photocopy the hard copy or scan it if it is to go online.

The reason that we often see these types of failed redaction is that they attempt to black out the text before it is printed, then you can scan it. If you don't black out the text prior to printing it is possible that the scanner picks up on subtle hints as to what the text might have been.

Take a black marker and go over a printed page, you can probably tell a bit what was printed there. That may be preserved through the scanner.

The best way to protected text in this manner is either to remove the text completely, or black it out prior to printing. I've never cared for the sloppy style of blacked out text, as it causes problems (not exhaustive):

1. Spacing can give clues
2. The censor might be overzealous because of the spacing thus withholding more information than necessary
3. They forget that black over text does not remove the text in electronic copies.

^H is cheaper on ink (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361910)

Hey TSA dudes, do your bit for the environment and use ^H like we do on slashdot.

Re:^H is cheaper on ink (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362216)

Is it sad that I read that and tried to delete the word before and figure out what the hell you were trying to say?

Re:^H is cheaper on ink (1)

irondonkey (1137243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362350)

Hopefully not, as I just did the same, and then hoped that you were correcting it.

I've always had the greatest confidence in TSA (5, Funny)

edwebdev (1304531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361912)

but must admit that this strikes a blow to their reputation for competence and effectiveness.

Redaction (5, Funny)

A Guy From Ottawa (599281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361916)

ttp:cryptomeorgtsa-screeningzip [ttp]

The cryptome URL has been redacted. Nothing to see here, move along.

Sincerely,
TSA

Re:Redaction (0, Offtopic)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362138)

What, you don't recognize transport transport protocol when you see it?

The PDF is being delivered by Zip Trucking Company.

"They're the zippiest!"

Re:Redaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362260)

you managed to be unfunnier than the parent.

wow (3, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361924)

CIA Badges look pretty easy to fake......

Re:wow (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362072)

CIA Badges look pretty easy to fake......

Any badge is easy to fake visually. The rest of the data is very easy to fake until you start getting into the really well designed on-card chips. Everything in between is just a matter of cost.

But any ID is backed up with a readily accessible database to confirm photos/details and potentially other points of verification (passcodes, etc)

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362144)

Yeah, no, you should definitely fake a CIA badge.

Idiots (3, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361944)

Idiots. They should have changed the text color to white for the stuff they wanted to hide.

Re:Idiots (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361974)

You would need to find a way to stop people printing the PDF on to black paper.

Re:Idiots (2, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362074)

Or just get rid of the white ink WAIT A MINUTE+++ath0
NO CARRIER

Re:Idiots (1)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362100)

There are please-do-not-X flags in PDF for all kinds of funny things, like "do not save form data" or "do not copy text" and so on. I could totally see the TSA requesting a please-do-not-print-on-black-media flag and having Adobe honor it in Acrobat...

Re:Idiots (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362166)

Which leaves me with strings [ed.ac.uk] .

Re:Idiots (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362034)

Umm... I hope you're joking. The PDF spec is well-documented and pulling info out of a document that isn't secured is trivial. One proper method is to use the built-in redaction tools present in Acrobat 9 Pro.

Re:Idiots (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362148)

whoosh...

Re:Idiots (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362324)

One has only to read the summary to see that seemingly obvious things aren't obvious to everyone.

Who knows, maybe Dan East is working for the Feds and thinks this is a tech support line.

Don't click! (1)

CaroKann (795685) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361954)

How do you know this isn't some kind of trap, a honeypot to track down all of you nosy busybodies?

Re:Don't click! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362142)

There is information even within misinformation.

Re:Don't click! (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362292)

That's what your neighbor's open WAP is for.

Can the mirrors please (2, Insightful)

shermo (1284310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361976)

Dammit. The mirrored files have the highlighting taken out so I don't know where the juicy bits are in the document.

Can someone mirror it with the highlighting left in?

Re:Can the mirrors please (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362020)

Try reading the first page of the "de-redacted" file. It has the URL to the original [cryptome.org] .

Re:Can the mirrors please (2, Informative)

kormoc (122955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362222)

The areas outlined in red are the previously blacked out areas

TSA? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30361990)

Why so little context in the description of this article?
From a quick google around.. it seems that the TSA referred to here is a US government agency of some sort - Transport Security Administration.
Perhaps it's assumed around here that almost every TLA from the USA is of global significance and widely understood.

Re:TSA? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30361996)

The TSA has long been a source of hilarity around here.

(I am an Australian BTW).

Re:TSA? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362154)

The TSA has long been a source of hilarity around here.

(I am an Australian BTW).

Something has happened with AQIS officers here though. About three weeks ago I got back to Perth at 12:30 in the morning and the customs official was helpful and polite.

They seemed particularly happy about these new machines that scanned your passport and took your photo automatically if you've got a new Australian passport (one with the chip). Only a government worker could be happy about their job being replaced by a machine.

Re:TSA? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362238)

I won't get to use those machines until 2015. For me its a bit like the automated checkouts at Big-W and Ikea. They place a high reliance on honesty. My son has the new RFID passport. Maybe I will send him though alone the next time we travel. He is 7. That should be old enough.

Re:TSA? (5, Funny)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362346)

Since when has global significance been a requirement for slashdot articles? Half the time significance isn't even a requirement.

why are they so scared about xray monitors? (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362004)

photographing EDS or ETD monitor screens or emitted images is not permitted. [...] Whenever possible, x-ray machine images must not be visible to the public or press. When physical constraints prevent x-ray images from being fully protected from public viewing, TSOs must ensure no member of the public or press is in a position to observe an x-ray monitor for an extended period of time. Passengers and other unauthorized individuals must not be allowed to view EDS or ETD monitors and screens.

Huh. Now...why would that be?

First guess, they don't want the "terrorists" to see how good/bad the x-ray devices are.

Second more cynical guess: Xray machines are mostly useless and the TSA doesn't want the public to realize it's a bunch of voodoo?

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (4, Insightful)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362046)

First guess, they don't want the "terrorists" to see how good/bad the x-ray devices are.

Second more cynical guess: Xray machines are mostly useless and the TSA doesn't want the public to realize it's a bunch of voodoo?

Perhaps it a privacy concern between whomever owns the bag being scanned and other members of the public.

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362108)

Yeah, I think the policy is probably supposed to prevent other passengers in the queue from deriving entertainment from the contents of other passenger's luggage (gee, check out the 12" dildo and handcuffs in that businessman's briefcase!)

Guess they wouldn't want to be sued for revealing someone's dirty-but-legal secrets....

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362126)

i've actually seen them call over other "officers" when they had a bag up on the screen that had a vibrator or dildo in it so they could all have a chuckle

then why was it redacted? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362150)

Perhaps it a privacy concern between whomever owns the bag being scanned and other members of the public.

If that were the case, it wouldn't make sense to have redacted that section.

Another interesting redacted section talks about how governors, lt. governors, immediate family, and two staff members...all appear to be eligible for "specialized screening", which probably consists of nothing more than a "have a nice flight, sir."

Same goes for the airplane's crew; they apparently don't want us to know that they're also exempt from any screening. As are: FEMA employees, US Military, US Senators and Representatives, holders of US diplomatic passports, holders of foreign diplomatic passwports with a little "yes, they're OK" card from the US gov't, Forest fighters (wtf?), and FAA inspectors.

Re:then why was it redacted? (1)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362230)

I know plenty of military who have gotten the extra screening on flights. And didn't the late Ted Kennedy (or some other congress person) get denied a flight since his name was similar to one on the watch list?

Re:then why was it redacted? (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362274)

According to salon.com's 'Ask the Pilot' column, pilots are not exempt from screening. If all the groups you mention are in the same category, then they also are not exempt.

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362262)

They aren't very good that.

I flew out of Newark yesterday and the three xray monitors for the xray scanner on the lane next to me was in plain site (and I would guess the other ones were in plain site for people in the other lanes - except the first lane they miss out). And since it took 15 minutes to get through every single passenger in line got to watch it for 15 minutes. It's easy to circle back for another pass through security, pick a different line if you think they might recognize you (but they won't anyway - at least not unless they review the security camera video later).

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362310)

Second more cynical guess: Xray machines are mostly useless and the TSA doesn't want the public to realize it's a bunch of voodoo?

The exact specifications and design limits of the machine is classified for a reason -- pictures of the operating parts give clues as to what those criterion might be. If you had photographs of the insides of the equipment you could infer the strength of the x-ray source and the resolution of the scanner, and from that you might figure out that, for example, #40 AWG wire wouldn't be visible if run it along a fiberglass housing. Or that the machine's stepper motors are only capable of moving the plates to a finite number of angles. Those are handy things to know if you wanted to get a prohibited item/device (or its components) past the scanner.

It should also be pointed out that these machines have a variety of image filters and enhancements that can be selected by the operator. The interactions between these standard operating modes and the device's limitations not being fully understood by the operator (because frankly, the training is not very technical) could be exploited.

Conclusion: It's not only a reasonable, but highly prudent, security measure.

Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (2, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362358)

It's almost certainly to prevent test runs.

Suppose you're a religious fundamentalist wack-job who thinks your God wants you to kill people who aren't following his rules. You'd probably have ideas about ways to get certain things on the plane*. (And you'd probably just do it.)

Now, imagine you're some white-bread, middle aged man from the Midwest with a wife, a couple of kids, and a dog. Suppose it's you're job to stop Mr. Wack-job. You'd probably think in terms of what you'd have on the line if you went up against Uncle Sam. And you'd probably suppose that he'd want to do some test runs with indifferent items with similar physical characteristics to the naughty items. But, because the test items would be neither dangerous nor prohibited, you couldn't count on security indicating that they saw the items.

Mr. Wack-job would gain much more information if he could watch the monitor for signs of his test items while an accomplice ran them through security.

-Peter

* I can think of several such items and approaches (and probable counter-measures, and possible counter-counter-measures), but I will keep them to myself so as to avoid any risk of giving the impression that I condone such behavior.

Use what they give you! (5, Informative)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362006)

How stupid are these people?! Adobe even has a feature to redact [adobe.com] (not draw black boxes) text from documents

CIA Redactions (1)

Katchu (1036242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362022)

Reminds me of the story about CIA Redactions--that in reality they use black highlighers for the important stuff.

Re:CIA Redactions (4, Funny)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362176)

You just gave me a mental image of some TSA bureaucrat sitting at his computer putting black magic marker lines on the CRT screen as he reviews the PDF.

Pehaps intentional? (2)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362052)

From what I can tell, some of the information which was poorly blacked out could be helpful to people who want to get things/persons past security.

However, that is under the assumption that the information is accurate. Perhaps this information is just misleading and the file was poorly blacked out so that people would crack it and assume that it is accurate.

Maybe one way to find out: Does anyone can fired or demoted for this? If not...maybe because it was intentional after all.

Re:Pehaps intentional? (2, Insightful)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362110)

Slashdotters are fond of pointing out that you should never ascribe to malice what you can ascribe to incompetence.

Silly (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362084)

Here are typical examples of redacted paragraphs:

Ensure TSOs do not handle explosives, incendiaries, or weapons if such items are discovered during the screening process.

D. Whenever a Threat Image Projection (TIP) enabled x-ray is unable to detect 28-gauge wire at Step 10 on the Test Step Wedge, discontinue use. The STSO must immediately notify TSA management.

An airport assigned LEO (if available), STSO, or designated TSA representative clears the individual after inspecting his or her badge, credential, and Government-issued photo ID, and if flying, his or her boarding pass and Notice of LEO Flying Armed Document.

Aircraft operator flight crewmembers in uniform, with valid aircraft operator employee identification, are
exempt from the Unpredictable Screening Process and restrictions involving liquids, gels, aerosols, and footwear. Aircraft operator flight crewmembers in uniform, designated as selectees, are not exempt from the requirements regarding liquids, gels, aerosols, or footwear. Any alarm of the aircraft operator flight crewmember's person or accessible property must be cleared.

On what planet is it necessary to keep facts like these secret?

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362120)

Well, you know, we're talking about the same agency that forbids videography of the screening processes. The same processes that the general public has to go through hundreds of thousands of times a day... Every time we go through the checkpoints..

Re:Silly (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362318)

we're talking about the same agency that forbids videography of the screening processes
 
The PDF says they are to allow photographs and video of the screening as long as it doesn't get in the way of the people working and you don't get the camera on the xray machines' screens.

Re:Silly (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362164)

On what planet is it necessary to keep facts like these secret?

Is it necessary to reveal them in this manner, or would the interest of the public be served by simply knowing that:

1. TSOs follow a procedure when explosives are discovered
2. X-rays have a test procedure
3. Only certain personnel are allowed to clear indivudals
4. Aircrew are subjected to modified screening procedures.

Is it relevant to know the details of those items? If it was related to my FOIA request, perhaps, but I think we should keep in mind that an open government doesn't require fully open records to meet the spirit of an open government.

If I somehow needed a database from a military hospital for a court case I was involved in, I would hope that any patient records would be anonymized if they weren't necessary for the trial.

Just as we don't necessarily need to know the exact metrics which cause an x-ray machine to fail an inspection unless we were specifically interested in the testing procedures of x-ray machines.

Re:Silly (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362192)

Don't you understand? The terrorists are all changing all of the 28 gauge wire on all of their suitcase bombs to 30 gauge wire even as we speak!

Re:Silly (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362284)

More likely it's things like the fact that they don't require prosthetic limbs to be screened. If the terr'rists knew that, we'd have them terr'rists wearing prosthetic legs that had C4 in them.

As effective as the rest of the TSA (3, Funny)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362102)

Why is the fact that their redacting technique is as useful and effective as their screening techniques surprising to anyone?

TSA, bringing you the best in security theatre since 2001!

Small Arms Ammunition allowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362116)

This wasn't blacked out or anything, but I had to laugh a bit if you look under 'Hazardous Materials Reference Document'

"Ammunition, small arms Small arms ammunition (up to 50-caliber cartridges
or 8-gauge shells) for personal use may be carried in checked baggage if securely
packed in boxes or packaging specifically designed for carrying ammunition. No
loaded firearms permitted in checked baggage"

I had to re-read that and was like err.. wait a minute... 50-caliber? Wow, that's allowed? Yet will freak out over a bottle of shampoo, huh? rofl ...

Re:Small Arms Ammunition allowed? (1)

Trolan (42526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362210)

Key words there: "checked baggage."

They limit liquid/gel capacity only on carry-ons, not checked bags. You could throw a couple gallons of liquids in your checked bags and they'd be "ok" with it. You can bring alot of otherwise restricted items in your checked bags.

If you think this is incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362136)

Just wait until they try their hand at Healthcare.

The TSA redacting process (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362140)

This clearly comes from the people who thought up my favourite piece of brain dead "security" from the TSA

When you enter the line to the security gate a TSA numpty checks your boarding pass to make sure you are allowed to join the line. Everyone joining the line has their boarding pass checked, this is a piece of paper often printed on a computer that says what flight you are on, its just about the easiest thing to fake in the history of fakery.

Then you lob everything into the x-ray machine, clearly needing to separate your laptop out as clearly its impossible to see stuff through that. Shoes of course, belts, internal organs...

Then as you step through the body scanner some TSA numpty says "boarding pass please". Pointing out that you've just put all your crap through the machine and that your boarding pass is with your passport and your wallet is of course pointless. The answer... wait until it comes out of the machine and then show the numpty. you are of course also checked at the gate with both passport (hard to fake) and boarding pass (trivial to fake).

So in otherwords the TSA check TWICE a piece of easy to fake information and NEVER check your ruddy passport.

So how did the TSA redact this PDF. Well simple they had the same process. The first person pasted on the black squares. This was then printed out.

The first checker then looked at the printed out copy and said "looks fine to me"

This document was then scanned in and then printed again to be checked by a second checker who said "yup all okay"

And then they put the ORIGINIAL electronic copy on line with the pasting over the top.

The TSA is to security what Micheal Vick is to Pet Care

Re:The TSA redacting process (5, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362296)

The TSA is to security what Micheal Vick is to Pet Care

Slashdot should have a facility to nominate quotes like this for a Slashdot Hall of Fame.

I would love to see Figure J (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362172)

The redacted portion of section 3.1.2 references a "Fig. J", yet this figure is not in the document... I would loooove to see what figure J is all about.

Also, the non-redacted section about Diplomatic Pouches (4.1) is interesting. Specifically point E.3:

Diplomatic pouches that are inadvertently submitted for screening and that alarm (either accessible property or checked baggage) must be denied access to the sterile or secured area and returned by the STSO to the diplomatic courier or aircraft operator without any further screening. If required, notify an LEO/BAO for items that alarmed the screening system.

If they accidentally screen a diplomatic pouch and it tests positive for something, the bag isn't allowed into the secured area... but it's returned to the courier un-investigated. And they'll just be able to bring it on another flight where it won't get screened this time. I get the concept behind diplomatic pouches, but once the veil is pierced I don't think it makes sense to just ignore what you saw, especially once you know something's wrong. What if the courier opened the pouch themselves and showed the screener a ticking bomb and then closed it up again? The screener was never supposed to see that, so what then? Just go about your business?

Re:I would love to see Figure J (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362286)

It's always a false positive.

When was the last time you saw a real valid positive while lining up and seeing hundreds of people go through security in front of you?

Other than bottles of water, yes, they are pretty good as stopping those.

Re:I would love to see Figure J (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362298)

I know someone who used to fly for an airline. They had passengers who were authorized for diplomatic reasons to carry guns, but the guns had to be unloaded and locked in a box. The Captain had the key but the purser had to check that the gun was unloaded. So this gun goes in the box. Pursor signs on the dotted line that the weapon is unloaded. Captain for some reason doesn't believe him. Maybe the weight of the box or some other reason. Captain says okay lets give it a test. Checks for clearance overhead, points the weapon skywards and pulls the trigger. The gun fires of course and the captain is in a bit of strife. But his responsibility ultimately goes beyond what the law required in this instance.

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