Has it been shown in another episode or said by the show's production team, how Sloan can circumvent DS9 security and get into Bashir's room?

From the episode Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges:

BASHIR: Odo's checked all the security logs. There's no indication of how Sloan got aboard or where he went.

SISKO: Can't say I'm surprised. From what we've seen of them, Section Thirty one is very meticulous in covering their tracks. I had a conversation with Admiral Ross this afternoon. He and I both agree that the Romulan conference is too important to cancel.

Has it been left ambiguous to make Section 31 seem more powerful and mysterious?


2 Answers 2


I don't think Star Trek has ever gone into detail about how Starfleet's security systems are meant to work. Vash, for example, gets into the captain's private quarters in QPid, but Picard's curiosity about her methods is apparently not particularly intense.

Assuming Quark didn't give him a hand somehow, Sloan is apparently capable of getting in and out without detection. As you say, this illustrates the extent of Section 31's infiltration powers, without getting bogged down in made-up technical specifics.

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    Thinking about modern-day IT security.....if you have the correct rights, you can do/bypass anything. Section 31 personnel likely have high-level security access that grants them almost (if not TOTAL) access to all Federation systems on any ship or station or facility. Walk on, tap into a panel and do the thing to bypass your entrance record and command the computer to “edit” out your visual appearance on any cameras. Use simple crowd-blend tactics for the Promenade and stealth your way to Sisko’s office. Done. Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 23:43
  • @MissouriSpartan - This is what I assume S31 does, which means, they're either part of the Federation and have access to technical manuals to understand how each piece of Federation technology works, or someone inside Starfleet/Federation is leaking information to S31.
    – user117906
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 2:09
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    @SusanAdams: maybe. They are also meant to be good at this stuff. Their purpose is to infiltrate other galactic powers, so they might just be using the same skills to get past Starfleet security, without purposefully-leaked information which might give them away. Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 11:26
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    @MissouriSpartan And we already know that Star Trek computers have special 'secret' overrides built in anyway, like the Omega Directive... Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 15:57
  • @Chronocidal - This might be a good question to post, but I've always wondered why SF computers are so easy to tamper with or override? I remember Quark removing the panel and inserting a few components, and being able to see classified areas of the station. In another episode Barclay removes a panel, crosses a few wires, and can override that console/computer. I guess we aren't supposed to worry about the details of how, just that it happened.
    – user117906
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 20:57

Yes, they deliberately left the 'how' ambiguous to make Section 31 more powerful and mysterious.

Over the years, we've seen that the UFP seem to rely a lot on voiceprint and fingerprint identifications, coupled with sensors detection.

In many instances, we can hear the Captain or XO utter a sentence like 'Authorization Picard Alpha-Sigma-7-2-9'. Janeway does it to get control back of her ship in The Omega Directive (VOY S04E21), Picard does it to be able to read a message sent on a special frequency in Conspiracy (TNG S01E25), and so on.

In Hero Worship (TNG S05E11), we also learn a bit more about how computer panels recognize who is trying to use them, and how they prevent unauthorized acces:

TIMOTHY: My arm hit the computer panel. That's what destroyed the ship.

TROI: The ship was damaged when your arm hit the computer panel? Timothy, listen to me. The damage to your ship might have occurred at the same time your arm touched the panel, but it was only a coincidence. This wasn't your fault.

TIMOTHY: Yes it was.

DATA: It is not possible. The onboard control systems for every starship require a user code clearance. You could not have inadvertently affected any of the Vico's systems.

PICARD: Your computer had safety precautions. There is nothing you could have touched that would have damaged your ship.

And there are also the ever present sensors, both visual and auditive, that records basically everything that happens in a starship or facility and stores it all in triple redundant backups, as explained by O'Brien in Destiny (DS9 S03E15).

However, we are also told in no uncertain terms that Section 31 is everywhere within StarFleet and the Federation: Admiral Ross works with or for Sloan, they have at least one agent in the President's close entourage, and they seem to be able to move about the Federation as they wish and have access to whatever assets they need.

While it's never fully explained on screen, it doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine that a secret organization with access to StarFleet's admiralty could give their field agents some high level access codes to UFP systems, high enough to allow them to bypass any kind of security and make sure that no record of their presence is ever created.

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    I take my answer back! This is the good stuff! Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 8:23
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    Also, with regard to this — “there are also the ever present sensors, both visual and auditive, that records basically everything that happens in a starship or facility and stores it all in triple redundant backups” — observant viewers will chuckle about Starfleet's apparent reluctance to add a reliable alerting system that informs the crew whenever the captain is suddenly abducted from the ship. It happened to Picard at least twice! Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 8:24
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    @PaulD.Waite Hush, you don't point glaring plot holes like that, it is not proper! You just diplomatically turn a blind eye to them. :P
    – Sava
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 14:51
  • @PaulD.Waite- I don't see why they can't do that, and the episodes can still work because all the receive is an alert, but they will still need to search for the captain.
    – user117906
    Commented Jun 20, 2019 at 14:52
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    Its worth noting that the episode 'The Darkness and the Light' this is done by Kiras friends - "LUPAZA: It took some work, but I managed to retune the transporter scrambler. KIRA: You beamed in? From where? LUPAZA: We stowed away aboard a transport ship making a run from Bajor. Just before it docked, I accessed the station personnel records." and they had less knowledge that a secret Starfleet agency. So it would be child's play for S31
    – Matt
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 16:14

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