World: Airport security in focus: aviation leaves back door open.

The doomed Metrojet Flight 9268 has cast serious doubt over security procedures at airports in the region and across the world. An emphasis on passenger screening has left the industry vulnerable to threats from staff. Suddenly, in what security experts increasingly believe was the devastating blast of a bomb over the Sinai last week, all the hard-won certainties of civil-aviation security appear to have been blown away. It has been a game of catch-up, with the terrorists setting the pace. At some airports, certain airlines have even introduced their own security checks at boarding gates. British Airways does this at Abu Dhabi, but refuses to say why, or where else it does so.  Matthew Finn, managing director of Augmentiq, a consultancy that works with governments and the industry to improve security at airports, ports and borders, says that in focusing on the threat from suicide bombers and hijackers, governments and the aviation industry have left “a back door” wide open.

“We don’t spend anywhere near enough time considering the potential of an insider threat,” he says.

“We focus on passengers, bags, tweezers and toothpaste, liquids and gels – things we think are important. But we need to step back and see a bigger picture, which includes staff, and that is where we’re vulnerable because we’re not doing that well enough.”

Passengers have no way of knowing whether the airport they are using is safe, he says. “There’s a back door open, and that erodes confidence and makes us think that the passenger security checks are just pure theatre.”

Even in the US, which after 9/11 is one of the world’s most security-conscious countries, it was only in January this year that the Transportation Security Administration woke up to this insider threat. In December last year, it emerged that a group of airport employees had been regularly smuggling guns and ammunition on aircraft flying from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta to New York.  More information available here:

Source: The National.

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