Wireless Insecurity

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At check-in counters across America -- private information just floats through thin air from computer to computer in the world of wireless technology.

But as a target for terrorists CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports that it's potential is also unlimited.

Right outside Atlanta's airport, Bill Corbitt is poaching information – sensitive information.

"Terrorism is information … you could cause some serious irreparable harm to people," he says.

Corbitt is a computer security specialist, hacking into wireless information systems at Atlanta's airport.

"Anything that an airline could be doing could be floating over that wire… they are allowing someone to have direct access to everything they are trying to protect," Corbitt tells Strassmann.


Everything America has tried to protect since Sept. 11.

Physical security is up -- but not technical security or wireless security.


Corbitt picks up four wireless networks that belong to FedEx -- networks Corbitt says are "reasonably" secure.

Still, they are deemed possibly crackable by the computer expert.

According to Corbitt you can fool the system into "believing the bag is safe to travel… believing the bag has an authorized person dropping it off."

A spokeswoman says FedEx is "comfortable" with its level of wireless security.

But Jalad Haidar, an aviation security expert, is not.

Haidar has directed security for airports from Beirut to Chicago.

"This is a new category that exists, and is a new emerging form of threat against civil aviation," says Haidar.

And consider Corbitt's equipment which he describes as, "a 12 year-old kid as a hobby could put it together."

It consists of a "Pringles" can for an antenna, hardware from Home Depot and, perhaps most alarming, free software downloaded from the Internet.

And the world of wireless can open wide to anyone.

"I am just amazed at large corporations, Fortune 100 companies, government industry. Just - it's out there. They are using it and the way they deploy it at times is questionable," Corbitt says.

No question, AirTran sees that threat.

"Everybody needs to take a hard look at this," says Rocky Wiggins, AirTran Chief Information Officer.

The airline uses wireless technology throughout its systems -- guarded by tough encryption.

"You always have to assume there is somebody out there working very hard to break in," says Wiggins.

Like somebody after information or somebody who could drive up, hack away, drive off without a trace and in many cases, without much trouble.


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