• Saudi government funded a “dry run” for 9/11: Court documents

    The Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. paid two Saudis to conduct a “dry run” of the 9/11 attacks, documents submitted by lawyers for plaintiffs in a terrorism case against the Saudi government show. The complaint stated that the Saudi government paid two nationals, posing as students in the United States, to take a flight from Phoenix to Washington in November 1999 in order to test out flight deck security. The two Saudi nationals, whose tickets were paid for by the Saudi embassy, took a flight from Phoenix to Washington, but their persistent questions of the crew about cockpit security, and their several attempts to enter the cockpit, led the pilots to make an emergency landing in Ohio, and the two Saudis were escorted off the plane by FBI agents. The two men were released after an initial interrogation by the FBI.

  • Getting past security without a plane ticket

    Starting Tuesday, 5 September, Pittsburgh International Airport has become the first U.S. airport to allow non-fliers regular access into its gate-side terminal areas since security measures changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The airport has won approval from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for non-ticketed customers to pass through security, though they will still have to go through the same screening as those catching flights. They will also be required to show ID so they can be vetted against no-fly lists.

  • Keeping the trains running on time in the face of climate change

    There are many railway bridges around the world. In the United Kingdom alone there are more than 40,000 railway bridges. Each nation has employed its own methodology for maintenance and repairs of this essential infrastructure, but new, daunting challenges created by climate change — extreme heat, extreme cold, and severe flooding — require yet more rigorous solutions.

  • Touch-free fingerprint scanners

    Balancing speed and security at the airport is essential to ensuring safe, reliable travel. DHS S&T and TSA are evaluating new identity verification technology that can reduce the time it takes for travelers to pass through security. The touch-free scanners allow a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as their boarding pass and identity document.

  • New app helps improve radiation detection at ports

    Evaluating radiation alarms represents a huge challenge for inspectors at seaports scanning containers for radioactive materials. Each alarm requires inspectors to perform secondary inspections on dozens of containers a day. A new smart phone application launched by the IAEA will help distinguish between alarms due to harmless amounts of naturally occurring radiation and alarms that might be a cause for concern from a security standpoint and warrant further investigation.

  • Automated security kiosk to shorten lines at airports, border crossings

    Researchers have developed a next-generation automated screening kiosk which uses an algorithm of “yes” or “no” questions delivered by a computer-generated avatar, quickly and efficiently to assess the potential threats passengers may pose to others. the screening can be completed in less than four minutes with a 90 percent success rate.

  • Rising temperatures may limit aircraft takeoffs globally

    Global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Rising temperatures due to global warming will make it harder for many aircraft around the world to take off in coming decades, says a new study. During the hottest parts of the day, 10 to 30 percent of fully loaded planes may have to remove some fuel, cargo or passengers, or else wait for cooler hours to fly, a new study shows.

  • Lab mistakenly ships radioactive material aboard commercial plane

    Employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been fired and disciplinary action against other personnel was taken after small amounts of radioactive material were mistakenly shipped aboard a commercial cargo plane. Nuclear experts say the mishap could have led to serious consequences. The rapid pressure changes during flights could have damaged the packaging, causing radiation to escape.

  • What air travelers will tolerate for non-discriminatory security screening

    Mounting anti-terrorism security procedures and the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) screening processes have launched numerous debates about the protection of civil liberties and equal treatment of passengers. A new study has successfully quantified how much potential air passengers value equal protection when measured against sacrifices in safety, cost, wait time, and convenience.

  • U.S. imposes enhanced security measures on U.S.-bound flights from 105 countries

    The United States will impose tough new security measures on all international flights bound for the United States. DHS officials said 280 airports in 105 countries would be affected by the tightened security, affecting around 2,000 flights a day. Airlines have been warned that a failure to comply with these enhanced security measures would carry consequences, including banning laptops altogether on the airlines’ U.S.-bound flights.

  • Protecting auto computer systems from hacks

    When you and your family are zooming along the freeway, the last thing you’re worried about is the security of your car’s computer systems. That’s one reason researchers work hard on protecting vehicles from cyberattacks. Computer engineering research team is focused on the security of wireless interfaces utilized by vehicles, the number of which will only grow as autonomous cars and trucks roll closer to reality. These interfaces in our vehicles, not unlike the computers in our homes and in our hands, can be susceptible to attacks, also known as hacks. The major difference is that attacks on a vehicle’s computer systems, which are connected to critical controls, can have potentially fatal consequences.

  • Preventing autonomous vehicles from being hacked

    Although autonomous vehicles are essentially large computers on wheels, securing them is not the same as securing a communication network that connects desktop computers and smartphones to large geographical areas due to the roles that the sensors and actuators play in the physical layer of the network. Researchers have developed an intelligent transportation system prototype designed to avoid collisions and prevent hacking of autonomous vehicles.

  • Germany testing face-recognition software to help police spot terrorists

    Germany will be testing facial recognition software at a Berlin train station this summer to see whether it can assist police identify terror suspects more quickly. Volunteers will help police test the software at Berlin’s Suedkreuz station. If the test is successful, the use of the biometric software would be expanded to other locations, and also used to help police identify criminals, not only people suspected of terrorist activities.

  • Cybersecurity on the fly

    When we think of cybersecurity, we think of applying protection measures to our desktop computers such as installing antivirus programs and using passcodes and pin numbers. Just like our computers, aircraft systems are vulnerable and are not exempt from a cyber-attack. If hacked, some examples of possible cyber effects on aircraft systems can be anything from breakdowns in communication and navigation systems to the more critical systems such as collision avoidance and life support systems.

  • Mannequin enhances training, accessibility for TSA officers

    Every day, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens more than two million passengers at airports nationwide. To get people to their destinations securely, TSA officers use a combination of technological and manual procedures, including pat-downs. Manual procedures are a key component of the screening process, and are part of various security measures both seen and unseen. Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited items or other threats to transportation security are concealed on a person. DHS S&T, in collaboration with the TSA Office of Requirements and Capabilities Analysis , is working to develop the Pat-down Accuracy Training Tool, also known as PATT.