Cybersecurity Experts: Airport Security Is in Jeopardy

Cybersecurity experts believe hackers can attack an airport’s X-ray scanners and explosive detectors, due to major vulnerabilities in the security systems.

NEW YORK – Cybersecurity experts are warning officials that hackers could use the very technology used to keep individuals safe to attack an airport’s security network.

In 2013, researcher Billy Rios, who works to find security flaws in various systems, tested machines found at airports, such as X-ray scanners, explosive detectors and time clocks. During his tests, Rios uncovered major security flaws in the systems, NBC New York reports.

RELATED: Cybersecurity Expert: I Hacked Airplane’s Computer System

The biggest vulnerability Rios discovered during his research were passwords built into the software used in the security systems. Rios says anyone that knows the username and password could easily log into the device and gain access to an airport network.

Once in the system, a hacker can manipulate an X-ray machine to hide weapons from screeners or steal sensitive data on how to bypass security, according to Rios.

Rios alerted U.S authorities after making his discovery, which prompted the Department of Homeland Security to issue a warning about password vulnerabilities in some explosives detection machines, NBC New York reports.

Rios also contacted the manufacturer of the itemisers, which detects explosives. The company said that the version the researcher tested was only used at foreign airports and that the company recently released an update to correct the flaw.

The cybersecurity expert maintains the broader concern continues at domestic airports, where he says he found three time clocks with vulnerable passwords.

The company that makes the time clocks says the vulnerability in their devices has been addressed and airports can now change the passwords Rios discovered.

Rios hopes that the recent discovery will prompt the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to impose more stringent requirements for manufacturers.

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