Thursday, August 10, 2006

Latest airline "security" hysteria

Educated Guesswork: Threat modelling airplane explosive detection

A good analysis of why the threat model of materials in checked luggage may be sufficiently different than carry-on that would need to hold for the new security measures to make sense.

I'm not sure I agree with Bruce Schneier's assessment that, "Given how little we know of the extent of the plot, these don't seem like rediculous [sic] short-term measures." I don't agree with this because if it is too risky to bring these kinds of materials onboard today, then why would it ever be okay to allow them tomorrow? It's kind of like the precautionary disconnect from the Internet, "Why, why, why do they let employees use the Internet at all if they occasionally stop trusting its safety? Threats don't magically shrink just because you updated the antivirus package." It doesn't make much sense occassionally stop trusting liquids/gels on airplanes, They are either a threat (someone can always masquerade a bomb as benign liquid at anytime and can always disguise a detonator as anything--imagine if terrorists use cellphones instead of keyfobs for a detonaor--the public reaction to banning cellphones in carry-on would be huge) or they aren't. I agree that there is a heightened threat right now, but that threat has been and will be nonzero, so when will it be "safe" to allow them back on board and what criteria would determine this?

The other danger of taking such drastic measures is that the terrorists could be counting on that. Terrorists can just change tactics while the TSA is busy keeping someone's Frappuccino off the plane but allowing supposed breastmilk and liquid prescription drugs. As if the terrorists wouldn't have anticipated that loophole.

I wish I wasn't flying in a couple of days--not because I'm afraid of the possibility of a terrorist on board my plane, but because it's going to be a nightmare to go through security. And now I have to rethink everything I was planning to bring on board.

No comments:

Post a Comment