Travelers with malicious intent could abuse global entry system

Travelers With 'Malicious Intent' Could Abuse Global Entry System, Report Finds

A system that allows international travelers to skip lines when entering the U.S. is ‘vulnerable to exploitation,’ according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Global Entry system aims to help overworked customs agents and exhausted passengers alike. The program, implemented by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, allows pre-vetted travelers to enter the country through a kiosk system rather than waiting in long lines to speak to an agent.

But while Global Entry has been popular among travelers – six million Americans are signed up to date – the program is also “vulnerable to exploitation” by criminals seeking to enter the U.S., according to a new report by the inspector general’s office within the Department of Homeland Security.

It wasn’t the actual technology that was at fault, the report found. When travelers enrolled in Global Entry arrive in the U.S., they head to a kiosk that scans their passport and immigration documents before printing a receipt. According to procedure, the passengers must then hand their receipt to a customs officer for inspection before they can officially enter the country.

In nine airports inspected by the office, that procedure was not always followed. Customs officers granted entry to as many as 5,751 Global Entry members without “verifying the authenticity” of their kiosk receipts, according to the report.

“Unless CBP officers authenticate kiosk receipts, someone could use a fraudulent receipt to enter the United States,” the report reads.

The officers also failed to properly check the receipts for a security code that changes on a daily basis, and did not take corrective action when they were notified that the code had been posted online or discarded nearby.

One of the reasons why officers were less inclined to verify the receipts: the process is “cumbersome, ineffective and inadequate,” the report found. The specific verification process was largely redacted from the report.

For its part, CBP accepted each of the report’s recommendations, stating that it is working to remedy the vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with agency policy.

Tim Erlin, the vice president of product management and strategy at the security technology company Tripwire, said that one positive aspect of the report is that process is “often easier to fix than software.”

“It’s tempting to automate as much as possible for security, but maintaining human oversight and involvement is critical for identifying problems,” Erlin said.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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