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How To Get Anything Through The New TSA Body Scanners

While there are a lot of privacy concerns with the US Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) new full body scanners, one blogger has proved they can be easily tricked, allowing for bombs, knives or a variety of other devices to be carried onto a plane.

According to the video posted on Youtube a couple of days ago, Rafi Sela, a man responsible for security at Ben Gurion airport in Israel - claimed to be one of the most security conscious airports in the world - would be able to easily bypass the scanners. Perhaps the most telling part of this realisation is that Ben Gurion has no plans to utilise the TSA's new detectors.

The man behind the video, Jonathan Corbett, described throughout the rest of the video, that because the images created by the scanners feature a black background and that hidden objects show up as black as well, adding a small pocket on a user's side renders anything placed in it invisible.

He didn't stop with the theory however, testing it out on several occasions and managing to smuggle a small metal container - the kind that would easily have been picked up by traditional metal detectors - onto a plane; successfully tricking the scanners and personnel using them.

This obviously creates a massive security risk but also poses the questions why the TSA hasn't known about this already? And if it did, why were the scanners rolled out like they were, at a massive cost to the airports that use them?

With a request for no phone calls, I emailed Mr Corbett with a few questions, he was kind enough to reply in a speedy fashion.

In asking how his own lawsuit against the TSA was progressing: Slowly. The TSA is, as one might expect, trying to claim a jurisdictional loophole that would save them from a jury trial, as well as a lot of the evidence gathering procedures of normal trials. The issue seems headed for the Supreme Court."

I also offered up the idea of simply scanning a user from a side on view as well as from the front and back. His response: "there are some issues: 1) they would need new software, 2) the radiation dose is now doubled, 3) the screening time is doubled, and 4) false positives are estimated on about 40% of scans, so if you scan someone twice, that jumps to 64%, essentially requiring 2/3 of people using the scanners to have a pat-down anyway."

When I suggested perhaps the TSA could simply install both new and old metal detectors together, Mr Corbett responded that while there were many logical possible options available to the TSA, he'd be surprised if they took them.

Dipping his toes into almost everything that could be labeled 'nerdy' in his free time, Jon has been writing about technology for over half a decade. While mainly focusing on PC hardware thoughout this time, today he's more varied, covering everything from gaming to general electronics, industry perspectives and consoles. As well as writing for different sites, Jon enjoys wargaming, reading and PC gaming, hoping to balance out these geeky pastimes with fire spinning and MMA.