The Oct. 24 news article “Experts warn of security defect with airline boarding passes” warned that the random component of the airline security system may be compromised because the allocation of a passenger to a full or a limited check is based on information readable in the boarding-pass bar code.
However, effectively random security checks do not require embedding information in boarding passes. A pair of dice at the checkpoint would do nicely, though passengers might find it unsettling to learn what “random” really means. This random component could always be combined with risk-based criteria (some of which would have to be encoded in the boarding pass and should indeed be encrypted).
A truly sophisticated system might throw in bogus unencrypted information on the boarding pass to give terrorist hackers a false sense of security.
Peter Bruce, Arlington
The writer is the president of the Institute for Statistics Education.