Researchers found full-body X-ray scanners found in U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013 weren't as effective as the TSA led us to believe - with knives, firearms, and explosives successfully concealed. In addition, scanner operating software could be manipulated to alert "all-clear" to the scanner operator, even if there was contraband found.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, Johns Hopkins University and University of Michigan contributed to the study. The scanner in question, the Rapiscan Secure 1000, was pulled from airports last year because of privacy concerns. The test unit was purchased on eBay and featured the same proprietary software and settings as the units used by the TSA.
"Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan computer science professor, in a statement. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."
This type of testing is often done secretly and doesn't give private experts or the public input before being deployed.