• TSA expands PreCheck screening program to international airlines

    The TSA is expanding its PreCheckscreening program to passengers on international airlines. Air Canada is the first international carrier to join the list of PreCheck carriers, which already includes several U.S. airlines.Some international airlines are reluctant to join the PreCheck carrier list because it entails upgrading their computer systems to print a PreCheck logo and embed PreCheck data in their boarding pass barcodes. With Air Canada joining the list, the TSA believes other foreign carriers with a large U.S. passenger base would benefit if they offered PreCheck status to their customers.

  • Forensic DNA technology could help identify abducted Nigerian girls

    Forensic DNA technology developed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks could be used to identify and reunite more than 200 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Islamist militants, scientists said. The software, Mass Fatality Identification System (M-FISys), has been used worldwide — in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Perú, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, among several other countries — to identify and return more than 700 children who were abducted by criminals for child trafficking.

  • Using biometrics to protect India’s one billion people raises security, privacy concerns

    The cutting edge of biometric identification — using fingerprints or eye scans to confirm a person’s identity – is not at the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security. It is in India. India’s Aadhaar program, operated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and created to confirm the identities of citizens who collect government benefits, has amassed fingerprint and iris data on 500 million people. It is the biggest biometric database in the world, twice as big as that of the FBI. It can verify one million identities per hour, each one taking about thirty seconds. The program unnerves some privacy advocates with its Orwellian overtones.

  • Mass. teachers, child-care employees to go through national background checks

    The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Securityannounced in March that educators and employees working in schools and childcare centers will have to go through a national background check. Teachers and other employees will have to pay for their own background checks.

  • The global passport security loophole: how serious is it?

    More than one billion people are estimated to have travelled internationally in 2013, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organization. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body that regulates air transport worldwide, reported that around 3.1 billion people travelled by airplane in 2013. The numbers are immense. As a result, so too are the security challenges for airlines, immigration, and airport security agencies. The ICAO expects all of its 192 member countries to introduce machine-readable passports by 2015, but there is still no international deadline for the introduction of biometric passports. This means some people could be using old-fashioned passports until 2025. Even then, there is no absolute guarantee biometric passports are any more tamper-proof than a host of other computer-based security measures which apply to credit cards and customer databases.

  • Passports of millions of travelers to U.K. not thoroughly checked

    The use of false passports by two passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared a couple of days ago have highlighted the fact that in the United Kingdom, the passport details of more than twenty million people entering and leaving the United Kingdom every year are not being properly checked. The Home Office’s most recent figures show that data is still not being collected and examined for about 10 percent of the 200 million people flying in and out of the United Kingdom every year.

  • NIST report on iris aging flawed: researchers

    In July last year, NIST released a report, titled “IREX VI: Temporal Stability of Iris Recognition Accuracy,” which concluded that its “best estimate of iris recognition aging” is so small that there should be no concern about the possibility of iris recognition accuracy degrading over time. University of Notre Dame biometrics researchers Kevin Bowyer and Estefan Ortiz have release a paper which points to errors in the NIST report on how iris aging affects the accuracy of iris recognition. They describe specific methodological errors in the NIST report, and present a list of suggestions to be addressed in a revised version of the report.

  • Biometric security for mobile devices becoming mainstream

    Biometric security such as fingerprint, face, and voice recognition is set to hit the mainstream as global technology companies market the systems as convenient and easy to use. The latest biometric technologies are not without their security issues, but they are marketed as more convenient than traditional methods rather than more secure, and encourage adoption by people who currently do not have any security on their phone at all.

  • Florida mulling banning school collection of students’ biometric information

    Some school districts in Florida, including Polk County and Pinellas County, are using scanners to collect fingerprints and hands, eyes, and voice characteristics from students. Pinellas County school district allows students to use palm scans instead of cash to pay for meals in the cafeteria. The collection of students’ biometric information has alarmed many parents who are concerned that students’ identity or personal records may be stolen or sold to private companies. Florida state legislators are debating a proposal which would stop school districts from collecting biometric information from students.

  • Police still use sketch artists despite advances in surveillance technology

    Despite the growing use of surveillance technology to monitor public and private spaces, some law enforcement departments still rely on composite sketches to help solve crimes. Some police departments are continuing the use of hand-drawn sketches because they are the only available method to identify suspects, but some departments are continuing to use the tool for nostalgia.

  • DNA data management specialist DNAnexus secures $15 million in Series C financing

    Mountain View, California-based DNAnexus, a specialist in cloud-based solutions for large-scale DNA data management and analysis, on Friday announced that it has closed a $15 million Series C funding led by Claremont Creek Ventures, Google Ventures, TPG Biotech, and First Round Capital. The company says that its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is being adopted by more customers seeking a solution to the needs of global enterprises face when building clinically compliant analysis pipelines for DNA sequence data.

  • Mississippi to comply with REAL ID

    Last Friday, Mississippi joined forty other states and announced it would comply with the REAL ID Act. Forty-one states and territories are fully or partially compliant with REAL ID – of which twenty states are fully compliant.

  • Longstanding forensic identification technique questioned

    Forensic experts have long used the shape of a person’s skull to make positive identifications of human remains. Those findings, however, may now be called into question, since a new study shows that there is not enough variation in skull shapes to make a positive ID.

  • First no-fly list case goes to trial

    Rahinah Ibrahim, dean of the architecture and engineering school at the University of Malaysia, took to trial on Monday her claim against the U.S. government for wrongfully listing her on the government’s no-fly list. Ibrahim has sought to clear her name since January 2005, when she was arrested at San Francisco International Airport. Similar lawsuits are pending across the country, but Ibrahim’s case is the first to go to trial. Ibrahim claims she was mistakenly placed on the no-fly list due to her national origin and Muslim faith.

  • Using keyboard, mouse, and mobile device “fingerprints” to protect data

    Passwords are not secure because they can be hacked or hijacked to get at sensitive personal, corporate, or even national security data. Researchers suggest a more secure way to verify computer users and protect data: tracking individual typing patterns. The researchers are now working on developing ways to identify and track individual patterns of using a mobile device or a computer mouse.