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Airline passenger screening system faces delays

The General Accounting Office warned today that the Transportation Security Administration’s high-tech system to screen airline passengers for terrorist connections faces significant testing and deployment delays, which could affect the program’s ultimate success.
According to a report by the GAO, the TSA has not only fallen behind in testing the new Computer-Assisted Passenger PreScreening System (CAPPS II), but also has yet to fully identify all of the functions it would like the system to perform. In addition, the TSA has not yet completed work on at least seven key technical challenges that could stand in the way of the system’s final deployment.

These issues, if not resolved, pose major risks to the successful deployment and implementation of CAPPS II.

There are other significant issues facing U.S. airport security, according to a former top Israeli airport security official and the director of security at Virgin Atlantic Airlines. According to these officials, who spoke Tuesday during an online Terror and Technology conference sponsored by IDPartners LLC, the U.S. runs a major risk by focusing too much on information technology and other high-tech solutions to uncover terrorist plots against airports and airlines.

Rafi Ron, president of New Age Security Solutions and the former head of security at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv explains that the terrorist threat against airlines is a relatively new experience in the U.S.

There is a tendency to solve problems through the use of technological means. Focusing on technology sometimes makes you lose your overall perspective. That can lead to unbalanced planning, unbalanced investment and misuse of funds.

Rather than rely on IT systems for the bulk of security monitoring, Ron said airport authorities should use personnel training programs in behavior pattern recognition, which has been highly successful in Israel.

Behavior analysis can fill the gap of a purely technological approach. Technology is not yet good enough to provide us with a 100% solution.

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