How to avoid a ‘fraudulent’ phone call in a busy airport: Experts
A new report shows how the security screening process at airports has become so sophisticated that some travelers are still able to access phones without knowing it.
In the report, a cybersecurity expert says some phones have been left unlocked in terminals in airports across the country without their owners’ knowledge.
“You are not just talking about the ones that have been opened but also the ones in the luggage, so if there’s no one in the airport, it’s a great opportunity to pick up a phone,” said the cybersecurity expert, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the issue.
The expert, a former CIA analyst who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), said that the government has made it more difficult for people to verify that their phones have not been compromised.
The report by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, found that of the roughly 500 million devices that have connected to the network in the United States, only a small percentage of them have been secured by a PIN, a unique number that helps unlock the phone.
According to the report released Wednesday, more than 5 percent of phones are left unlocked when they are left unattended in a locked area.
That means the devices could be unlocked without the owner’s knowledge.
Trend Micro also found that phones have become so popular at airports that some people have left their phones unlocked.
The company analyzed the phones of 1,988 passengers on flights to more than 2,000 airports between July 1, 2016, and July 7, 2017.
It found that about 3 percent of the devices were left unlocked on average.
It found that only about 1 percent of travelers had a PIN on their phone, but that this number increased to about 3.5 percent after travelers had access to a device’s fingerprint and iris scanner.
That number rose to nearly 6 percent after a passenger had access an iris scanning device.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for someone to make a fraudulent call,” the cybersecurity researcher said.
“They have access to their PIN and can do anything to a phone, and the FBI can get involved and do a full forensic analysis on the device.”
The technology is so sophisticated, the report states, that some airports have no security cameras or other means of monitoring the phones that are left unsecured.
The technology has allowed people to bypass security procedures that would otherwise be required for a PIN or a PIN-to-fingerprint system.
Security experts say that the phones in many cases have been tampered with to enable easy access by a hacker.
The device’s owner or anyone who can gain access to the phone, the expert said, has no way of verifying the information on the phone before they use it.
“Once a phone is unlocked, it doesn’t have any way to tell the owner that it’s not the phone,” the researcher said, referring to a common feature of phones that allow phones to be unlocked.
“There’s no way to verify whether the phone is the phone that was left unlocked or if it was a stolen phone.”