Thursday, January 7, 2010

Responsibility for Newark Airport Breach Taken by TSA

Newark Liberty International AirportRecently in the news we heard about how the Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey was shut down for hours because a man walked the wrong way through a security checkpoint. The unidentified man's actions prompted a security breach which not only shut down Terminal C in the airport for hours but also prompted the rescreening of thousands of passengers.

The discovery about the man was discovered after a passenger in the airport reported to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer Sunday afternoon that he believed a person had walked through a security checkpoint the wrong way. In a startling discovery, the TSA attempted to confirm the breach via security cameras that they funded which were installed and operated by the Port Authority. The only problem was that though the cameras were on, they were not recording.

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) reported in a news conference Wednesday that the camera system had been down since December 28th but that statement couldn't be confirmed by a Homeland Security Official. Thankfully the security cameras for Continental Airlines had been on and recording. The tapes confirmed that an Asian male breached security though TSA officers were unable to find him.

With some more alarming news, TSA notified the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about the breach. However, according to an airport source, the news of the breach did not reach the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until 80 minuets after the breach occurred. Reports say that the unidentified man walked through the exit on the public side to the secure "sterile" side in the airport.

How the man was able to pass security undetected remains unclear. An official from Homeland Security told CNN that the TSA officer at the post was distracted by a passenger asking for directions or something like that. The guard in question was removed from screening duties after the breach and was put on administrative leave as of Tuesday.

Although TSA was unable to locate the man, a spokesman said "any threat he may have presented was eliminated by rescreening everyone and re-combing the airport to make sure he didn't introduce anything to the environment or hand anything off to anyone."

Due to the breach and the disabled cameras, TSA has volunteered to check the cameras daily to make sure they are working properly. Airport sources said that the TSA "has that system at their workstations. They have the ability to check it. They need to check it and tell the Port Authority if it's not working." TSA is taking full responsibility for the breach and promise to do everything they can to prevent breaches like this from happening in the future. Which is especially crucial at the Newark airport considering it was one of the airports from which the September 11th hijackers departed.

A problem like this security breach may have been easily avoided had the airport had a remote checkup service for their camera system. Camera Security Now has remote DVR/NVR server checkups that will ensure all of your equipment is running like it should.

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