HSNW conversation with Steve WilliamsStopping terrorists from using fake IDs at airports

Published 7 July 2011

Steve Williams, the CEO of Intellicheck Mobilisa, a technology company that develops wireless identity systems, was recently interviewed by Homeland Security NewsWire’s executive editor Eugene Chow; Williams discusses the ease with which criminals and terrorists use false documents to travel, how pervasive the problem is, and solutions to help stop it

Use of fake IDs at airports becoming more frequent // Source: thingmagic.com

HSNW: Given that there have been several high profile incidents of criminals or terrorists (like Faisal Shazad, the New York Times Squarebomber, or the Nigerian man who was recently arrested at New York’s JFK airport), getting through airport security and boarding planes, how pervasive is this problem? In addition what are the vulnerabilities that criminals and terrorists are exploiting to bypass an airport’s multiple layers of security?

Steve Williams: Very pervasive, in the last couple of years even with the increased security measures, we continue to see individuals board aircraft with”fake” or expired credentials or boarding passes. The facts are that an individual cannot visibly recognize all the embedded security features in a document without a reader to detect fraudulent documents.Terrorists are exploiting areas where there is a lack of technology to validate identification cards to screen individuals attempting to access aircraft or airports. They ask you to remove your shoes but do not verify that the document you are presenting is real; in fact, you do not even need a credential. Do you think if a bad guy knew you were going to check their credential against a “bad guy” list they would even submit their ID for review?

HSNW: Your company manufacturers a portable ID scanner, how would it prevent criminals or terrorists from evading authorities and boarding planes?

SW: The device is real time and can be updated real time.The system could check any ID against various lists, currently over 100, to include data only accessible to law enforcement and prevent a wanted individual from fleeing the country. If they are “evading,” that means they are on some list and our system can query that list in real time.

HSNW: With more nations moving to biometric passports and requiring foreign visitors to have their fingerprints scanned on entry and exit, is your company’s technology still needed?

SW: Yes, we sell biometrics readers but biometrics are not new and frankly the market has not seen the growth it expected. The secure method is to use something you have validated, your driver’s license, something you are, your biometric, and something you know, your PIN. Biometrics are just one piece of the puzzle.

HSNW: Given the current budget climate with lawmakers struggling to cut spending, is purchasing handheld ID scanners a cost-effective approach to airport security?

SW: Absolutely, they have been trying to improve the screening process at airport for years and currently have $50 million set aside for visitor screening at DHS. For a fraction of that cost you could use the system at security checkpoints that would also reduce the labor necessary to operate the check points and at the same time increase security.