[ISN] Increased Security A Threat To Laptops

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Nov 14 2001 - 07:07:08 PST

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    By Keith L Alexander, Washington Post
    14 Nov 2001, 7:07 AM CST
    Sterling, Va. resident Richard Shapiro was flying United Airlines to
    Missoula, Mont., with his Sony laptop computer when he encountered the
    post-Sept. 11 security procedures at Dulles International Airport
    regarding laptops.
    Since the terrorist hijackings, travelers must remove laptops from
    their cases and place the computers on the conveyer belts of X-ray
    As his laptop rolled down the belt after being X-rayed, Shapiro
    noticed that the plastic piece covering the printer's port had broken
    off between the rollers that push items out of the X-ray machine.
    Shapiro approached the head of Argenbright Security, which was running
    the security checkpoint, and he asked to be compensated. Argenbright
    referred him to United Airlines, which had hired the security firm and
    is ultimately responsible for the security. Shapiro was still waiting
    to hear back from United yesterday.
    Several travel agents say clients also have complained to them of
    laptop damage resulting from X-ray machines. Travel agent Penny
    Hawkins of Lakes Area Travel Plus in West Bloomfield, Mich., said a
    client had a similar experience with Continental Airlines.
    A check indicates that airlines differ on how laptops are handled.
    Continental said the security firm is liable.
    United and US Airways said such damage is the carrier's
    responsibility. "Anything that goes through the belts, there is a
    possibility it could be damaged. If it's in our control, our customers
    should contact United, and we would work it out with them," said
    United spokesman Chris Brathwaite.
    Brian Lott, spokesman for Argenbright Security, said the liability is
    shared by the airlines and their security firms.
    In the meantime, Lott and other airline experts offered suggestions
    for minimizing minimize damage to laptops:
    * Request a plastic tub or bin for your laptop before sending it
      through the X-ray machine. Most airports have these bins at security
    * Place your laptop in the middle and toward the front of the belt so
      that it doesn't knock against the sides of the machine while passing
    * Inscribe your name or tape your identification on your laptop, since
      there are so many black laptops out there.
    * Place your laptop bag in front of your computer on the belt. Because
      there is a slope on the other side of the X-ray machine, your
      computer could slide and hit the metal or steel side of the
      belt. Your bag would then act as a cushion.
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