Student Sets up Web Site for Fake Boarding Passes

A computer security student said he set up a Web site that prints fake boarding passes to show that terrorists would have no trouble getting around the U.S. government's no-fly list.

The passenger name on the fake boarding pass is "Bin Laden/Osama," although travelers can put in their own name - or a fake one - and change the flight information, too.

Christopher Soghoian, a 24-year-old doctoral student at Indiana University, said he set up the site to prove that the Transportation Security Administration is not taking airline security seriously.

Others have pointed out before that savvy computer users could modify an airline Web page to print fake boarding passes, but Soghoian took it a step further and automated it.

"Before, any 12-year-old could have done it," Soghoian said on Friday. "Now any 30- or 40-year-old could do it as well."

Soghoian said terrorists on the no-fly list could use a fake boarding pass to avoid the no-fly list because IDs are only checked when the passenger passes through security screening. So someone could use a fake boarding pass with identification that matches and get through the screening.

They would then need a real boarding pass - presumably bought under a fake name - to get on the plane.

There also have been reports of travelers flying without identification at all. That "essentially means the no-fly list does not work," Soghoian said.

TSA spokesman Christopher White said other security measures are in place, including metal detectors, even if someone boards under a fake name. He condemned the Web site.

"The Web site really has the potential to promote illegal activity," he said. "Showing fraudulent documents to get through security is against the law."

Soghoian said he built his Web site to mimic Northwest Airlines boarding passes because he had one handy after flying Northwest earlier this week. He said he has nothing against the airline.

Soghoian said the fake boarding pass could not get anyone onto a flight - as long as the airline's computers were working - because the bar code would not match the other information on the pass.

Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski said the airline immediately notifies the TSA and law enforcement agencies if it discovers a fraudulent boarding pass.

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