After a Swedish hacker discovered it on an unprotected server, a copy of the 1.5 million-entry US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) no-fly list was posted online. The list includes the names of possible IRA members, many of whom are of Middle Eastern heritage, as well as the newly freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as first reported by The Daily Dot.
The hacker, under the alias Krimif, revealed on his blog that the list contained the names, residences, passport numbers, and license numbers of airline personnel and was “in fact a copy of the 2019 no-fly list.” According to a TSA representative, the agency is “aware of a potential cybersecurity concern” and is gathering inquiries regarding the leak in order to respond to them as soon as possible.
No leaks of flight list names
The server was not secured, allowing online access to the 1.5 million no-fly list maintained by the TSA. The identities of known or suspected terrorists who are forbidden from traveling to or entering the United States are listed on the no-fly list.
Download of the no fly list
The screening procedure has its origins in the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, when airlines compared their passenger records with federal data to prevent threatening individuals off of airplanes.
But with time, this list has gotten shorter. Since CommuteAir manages the servers, almost 1,000 staff members were involved in the data gathering.
According to Erik Kane, corporate relations manager at CommuteAir, “a misconfiguration left the system exposed.” An old copy of the 2019 state no-fly list, which contains first and last names as well as dates of birth, was among the papers the researchers were able to obtain, according to Kane. Researchers also learned that a database containing the personal information of CommuteAir employees was accessed using data found on the server.
What to do if you’re not allowed to board?
You can submit a standard form to the Department of Homeland Security’s Traveler Remediation Investigation Program if you are denied boarding (DHS TRIP). Your complaint and any supporting documentation will be forwarded by DHS TRIP to the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which will determine whether any action needs to be taken.
If TSC concludes that you are a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States and that you are on the no-fly list, DHS TRIP will write you a letter informing you of this fact and giving you the chance to provide further information. If you decide to go with this option, DHS TRIP will send you a second letter outlining the basic requirements for your no-fly list and maybe including a non-confidential explanation of the factors that led to it. You should be aware that the government may opt not to offer a summary in some circumstances or that it may not include all of the justifications for your listing. In addition, the government will not furnish you with any supporting documentation for its decision to list you and may suppress material that might contradict that determination. Finally, the government doesn’t hold live hearings where you can testify or allow you to question witnesses who are testifying against you.
You are allowed to reply to the second letter in writing and include any supporting documentation you think is necessary. Following consideration of your submitted response, the government will let you know of its ultimate decision.
TSC will assess your submission if you are not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, and DHS TRIP will write you a letter outlining how the issue was resolved. It is important to note that nothing in this letter implies that you are on the no-fly list, that you will stay there, or that you won’t be able to fly in the future. The government also refuses to provide meaningful hearings to clear your name or to provide notice or explanations for your inclusion on the no-fly list. Unfortunately, following this approach, foreign nationals must buy a ticket and make an attempt to board a plane in order to find out if they have been taken off the no-fly list.