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Can I See Your Badge? How a Man May Have Used a Lost Badge to Evade O’Hare Airport Security for 3 Months

This is a story about the power of an airport badge - #badgegate if you will.

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By Willem Ryan
AlertEnterprise, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

COVID-19 has slowed or canceled most things in our lives. But even during the pandemic, travelers continued to move between the nation’s airports and security remained essential. So, when Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, one of the world’s busiest, discovered a man from Los Angeles had lived undetected inside the terminals for three months, eyebrows raised and an investigation ensued. Aditya Singh was arrested and charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft. A multiagency investigation between federal and local law is underway, according to an editorial in the Chicago Tribune.

With a scheduled stopover at O’Hare, Singh left his flight, entered the airport…and never left. He roamed the airport and lived off food from strangers and food courts until January 16, 2021 when two United Airlines workers asked to see his identification. He produced an ID badge that belonged to an airport operations manager that had been reported missing October 19th, 2020 the day before his arrival in Chicago. The employees then called 911 and the police took Singh into custody just after 11 a.m. that day.

With airports and transportation hubs often targeted by terrorists, Security is a grave concern for workers, contractors and travelers. According to the city’s Aviation Department Singh did not leave the secure side of the airport, but the story could have had a much different ending if the badge remained active and was used in a restricted area.

Breached Security protocols such as these, especially at our nation’s critical infrastructure, are serious matters and demonstrate the real power of a badge. Airport Guardian, the AlertEnterprise Identity Management and Credentialing solution, is tailored to the challenge and has several features for this scenario:

  1. A secure web-based self-service portal for badged employees, temporary contractors and tenants to report lost or stolen credentials.

  2. Lost, stolen and suspended badge activity detection, alert and deactivation if used to try and gain access to secure areas.

  3. Complete badge auditing for terminated, suspended or expired badges, lack of activity, payroll records and ad hoc reporting.

Airport Guardian software is built to deliver active policy enforcement to help prevent violations before they happen and provide a 360-degree view of risk across the airport enterprise.