Pretty good at gettin' by

Tuesday, 28 October 2003, 8:41 AM EST

Look at a photo of Nathaniel Heatwole, the student who performed pro bono security testing on Southwest Airlines. Neat and freshly-scrubbed, he's a good fellow at Guilford College, the winner of a cash award for ham radio broadcasters -- a white-hat hacker trying to make air travel safer.

Not only did Heatwole push box-cutters and other items symbolically meant to appear menacing through airport security, he also showed that the sharing of information isn't so hot. Heatwole warned the Transportation Security Administration about his work in e-mail. The TSA, however, receives 5,700 e-mails a day. In the electronic blizzard, the notification was missed for weeks.

This play has repeated itself in every aspect of physical and electronic security for as long as I've written about the subject. Anyone who has followed the public history of computer intrusion will find the Heatwole case reminiscent of things they have either had to deal with personally or learned of through schooling and the media.

[ Read more ]




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