e-passport Since 2007, the U.S. government has been issuing high tech, biometric “e-passports,” hoping it will make getting a fake passport extremely hard. Unfortunately for the government, it is very easy for anyone with basic forgery skills to get these e-passports.

To find out just how easy it really is, a Government Accountability Office (GAO)  investigator used multiple fake IDs to get real e-passports without problem. He used one of the passports to buy plane tickets, where he actually got a boarding pass, he made it through security and could have gotten on the plane if he wanted to. The shocking part is that the younger investigator used the social security number of a man who died in 1965,  a fictitious 5-year-old child created for a previous investigation, and an ID that said he was 53-years-old.

After presenting this case to the government, they agreed that there was a “major vulnerability” in the passport issuance process and agreed to investigate it further.

(Via Schneier)

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U.S. Consulate in the Sandton area of Johannesburg

The U.S. Embassy in South Africa was urgently shut down today due to intelligence information it received from U.S. security officials. This closure has also affected the U.S. embassy in Pretoria, consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and aid and development offices. Despite this, neither U.S Embassy spokeswoman Sharon Hudson Dean nor Nonkululeko Mbatha, spokeswoman for the South African national police commissioner, would say whether a threat had prompted the closure. This has brought back many security questions, however representatives assure “every thing is under control.”

U.S. diplomats advised American citizens to review a July 29th U.S. State Department warning expressing concern “that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.” The warning followed suicide attacks on two American-owned hotels in Indonesia’s capital that killed seven people and wounded more than 50. On August 7, 1998, Al-Qaeda carried out suicide bomber attacks targeting the US embassy in Kenya and Tanzania. 213 people died in the Nairobi bombing.

Despite the fact that the embassy and other U.S. government buildings in South Africa are still closed, officials refuse to disclose any detailed information and are constantly reassuring everyone who will listen, that they have the situation under control. The embassy and all other American affiliated buildings, are planning to reopen as early as Wednesday.

(Via Associated Press, and AFP)

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