13 Jul

BBC News – US airports still vulnerable to attacks, says lawmaker

More than 25,000 security breaches have occurred at US airports since November 2001, a congressional panel has heard.

Jason Chaffetz cited government figures showing the airports were still vulnerable to terror attacks, despite billions invested in security.

Some 6,000 passengers and pieces of luggage breached security screening.

But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the number of breaches represented a fraction of the 5.5bn people screened since 2001.

The TSA said the definition of a security breach was broad, and could represent a range of different situations.

Mr Chaffetz, chairman of a House of Representatives subcommittee, told the panel that more than 14,000 people were able to access sensitive areas of US airports since 2001.

Some 6,000 passengers and pieces of carry-on luggage were able to make it past government checkpoints without proper scrutiny.

via BBC News – US airports still vulnerable to attacks, says lawmaker. The TSA is so effective it’s ineffective.

26 Dec

TSA May Increase Travel Restrictions

Due to a recent incident aboard a US bound flight, where a passenger ignited an explosive powder but which was quickly doused by both fellow passengers and crew members. The TSA is evidently considering disallowing passengers from moving around in the final hour of a plane ride. Quoting from the New York Times article:

According to a statement posted Saturday morning on Air Canada’s Web site, the Transportation Security Administration will severely limit the behavior of both passengers and crew during flights in United States airspace — restricting movement in the last hour of flight. Late Saturday morning, the T.S.A. had not yet included this new information on its own Web site.

As of now I’m also not seeing anything on the TSA site to confirm or deny this statement. But let’s assume that the TSA will in fact restrict travel in this manner. You are going to restrict travelers from moving in the last hour of a plane ride due to a single failed incident in which the person could have tried to light the explosive powder at any point during their flight. So you are really just moving the threat to a different time frame during the trip. That and you are now going to make those short legs really hard to deal with since you already can’t move about the cabin during the climb to cruising altitude. That and plus the crew and passengers defeated this pretty easily and the psychology of passengers aren’t going to let them be so easily taken down (Bruce Schneier talked about this but I am having trouble finding a citation).

My point here is that

  1. this is a pretty localized and small incident that was easily stopped
  2. responding to this single act with an overly broad and inefficient measure does nothing but annoy more people.

Or we could just have the shock collars and be herded like prisoners on and off planes.

Right after I finished this I found a nice article complementing my point from MG Seigler at Techcrunch. And Schneier responds to the rules here.