Study: TSA Full-Body X-Ray Scanners Miss Guns, Explosives, Knives

Researcher: “Frankly, we were shocked by what we found”
Study: TSA Full-Body X-Ray Scanners Miss Guns, Explosives, Knives

by CBS DC | August 20, 2014


Teflon tape, molded plastic explosives and handguns are all concealment tricks that a group of researchers were able to pull off on the Rapiscan Secure 1000 machines previously used at TSA checkpoints and currently used at courthouses, prisons and other government security stops.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University maneuvered weapons past the full-body X-ray scanners that were deployed at U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013 – at a cost of more than $1 billion.

“Frankly, we were shocked by what we found,” said J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, in a statement. “A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques.”

Rapiscan Systems labels the Secure 1000 machines as “the most effective and most widely deployed image-based people screening solution,” although the scanners were removed from TSA airport checkpoints last year because of privacy complaints stemming from the near-naked images it produced of passengers.

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