I read these questions (1,2), but they don't quite answer what I'm after.

In several episodes, members of the crew are able to circumvent security protocols simply by removing a panel, crossing some wires or removing a component.

For example, in Star Trek: Voyager episode Pathfinder, Barclay opens a panel to override a security lock out and prevents ship officers from capturing him.

In another episode, Prey, Seven of Nine opens a panel in the wall and overrides the transporter with Borg encryption codes!

Why didn't it cross anyone's mind at Starfleet to run a penetration test or physical test on ships and their systems to prevent physical access as described above?

  • 14
    For the same reason the Enterprise is boarded or hijacked every other week: otherwise the would be no story!
    – Hans Olo
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 20:17
  • 7
    Have you seen the kinds of insane admirals they get at Starfleet HQ? It's a wonder they have any security at all.
    – Cadence
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 21:14
  • 3
    Keep in mind that these episodes were made 20+ years ago when IT security was different. Most systems weren't really "online" or even interconnected in the way they are today. Just locking it behind a door with keys distributed only to "trusted" users was usually enough. Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 23:19
  • 4
    There's also apparently a generally accepted implicit trust given to Starfleet officers and crew. If you are on the ship, then for the most part, you should be trustworthy enough to not mess around with things. Also, having easy access to systems is shown to be extremely helpful in life and death situations quite often (drat! I could save us all if only I had the right access to this critical component in a locked down part of the ship. Alas, we die). In other words, it seems the security assumption is not allowing bad actors (no pun intended) on-board in the first place....
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 14:22
  • 1
    ..once on board, it behooves the crew to allow mostly anyone access to mostly anything
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


There are multiple reasons to that.

The ships we usually see on-screen are either science vessels, or on scientific missions

There is no need to overly restrict everything on a science vessel, where the risk of being boarded is minimal. The privilege of moving around comes with a certain amount of trust.

We see things mainly from the perspective of trusted crewmen

The people we see moving around the ships are ususally trusted. For example, we never see anybody having difficulties reaching the bridge, because they are actually allowed to be there. That does not mean that no security measures are in place.

Contrast that to TNG: Encounter at Farpoint, where Wesley made his way to the bridge (with the help of his mother), a fact that was immediately pointed out. While Wesley moves around on the bridge, he is under close surveillance of literally everyone on the bridge, and he is thrown out as soon as he oversteps the boundaries.

Wesley on the bridge on YouTube

An even better contrast is Season 1 of Discovery: Michael Burnham is an untrusted person on a vessel with a military mission during times of war, so she sees guards everywhere she goes. Some doors are even secured by Section 31 personnel.

Barclay and Seven are very smart and familiar with the tech

The two examples you mentioned can easily be explained with both people being both very smart and very familiar with the technology - Reg, because he is a gifted engineer well-versed with Federation technology, and Seven because she has superior Borg implants which help her with the Power of Plot.

As an analogy, if I lock my front door, Reg might be able to open it because he is so familiar with my house that he knows that I keep a spare key under the doormat, and Seven might be able to open it because she carries a superior multi tool with her all the time. Since my door is designed to prevent "average" intruders, it has no chance against a guy with inside knowledge or a woman with badass tools.

The computer logs everything, and might be programmed to call out unusual behaviour

The computer usually knows where everyone is at a given time, and not only that, it also knows the last known location, when a shuttle starts, when the transporter is being used (including starting point and destination) and so on. So in case you are trying to manipulate things, it's likely that it's logged somewhere.

  • Note that I am not actually keeping a spare key under my doormat, please don't try to burgle my house :)
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 15:22
  • All true and well said, if it were not for the fact that the Enterprise keeps getting boarded or hijacked over and over again. In a real universe this problem would be addressed. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 16:18
  • Do you have examples where the Enterprise is boarded due to terrible physical security? Picard is known for being a trusting person, keeping the shields down even in the face of enemies, to appear non-threatening. That behaviour is something the best security can't deal with.
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 16:27
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    It seems to me that the examples you cite are sufficient; I just see them from a different perspective. Any hijacking of a ship today would lead to an inquest. The Enterprise has been hijacked several times. The details differ, but the trusting Picard wasn't the captain in every case. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 16:42

There is much about Star Trek that does not make much sense from a technology viewpoint and this is clearly introduced for the sake of stories.

To me the biggest implausible thing is the almost complete absence of AI even though AI clearly exists. This is of course to allow humans to remain necessary and to thrust them into dangerous situations which otherwise would be handled by remotely-controlled robots or AI.

  • 3
    This is not an answer to the question. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:30
  • Yes, it is. The reason security is bad is because they need it to be so for stories.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:34
  • The second paragraph, which represents the bulk of the text, is a rant that doesn't actually answer the question.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 15:19

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