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Schneier Has Something Good To Say About Airport Security 226

Bruce Schneier points out on his blog a proposal to use electronic randomizers at airport security checkpoints. Schneier writes there: "I've seen something like this at customs in, I think, India. Every passenger walks up to a kiosk and presses a button. If the green light turns on, he walks through. If the red light turns on, his bags get searched. Presumably the customs officials can set the search percentage. Automatic randomized screening is a good idea. It's free from bias or profiling. It can't be gamed. These both make it more secure. Note that this is just an RFI from the TSA. An actual program might be years away, and it might not be implemented well. But it's certainly a start." In this case, the proposal is for randomizers that direct passengers to particular conveyor-belt lines for screening.
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Schneier Has Something Good To Say About Airport Security

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  • Same in Mexico. (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @07:55PM (#44333801)

    Nothing new here.
    Had the same experience in mexico a dozen years ago.
    Red light or green light.
    But back then, there was a guy standing on a switch could just flex his knee to make additional selections if you looks particularly shady.

  • by KPexEA ( 1030982 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @08:10PM (#44333925)
    You stand on a mat and it directs you to one of three different security lines, presumably to randomize the screeners incase you have one on your payroll.,
  • Re:Except (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @09:09PM (#44334267) Journal
    I got modded down for some reason, but wow, the first time you get groped at the airport, it all changes from abstract theory to miserable reality. To feel the soft caresses of the male security guard as he brushes by your balls......

    That is something that affects you.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @09:14PM (#44334281)

    just functioning brain cells and a lack of bigotry.

    It's not bigotry to pay more attention by behavior profiling and using a little common sense rather than blind rule following.

    Behavior analysis is free of racial implications.

    Meanwhile "The Randomizer" pulls aside a four year old while letting through some sweaty guy with the shakes and an oddly bulging coat.

  • by cffrost ( 885375 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @09:51PM (#44334417) Homepage

    Is there evidence that profiling passengers based on appearance and behavior is not more effective than randomized screening?

    Yes. MIT published a paper entitled "Carnival Booth" that demonstrated that random screening is more secure than profiling, essentially due to the latter's vulnerability to probing:

    Carnival Booth: An Algorithm for Defeating the Computer-Assisted Passenger Screening System []

    A Lay Explanation of the MIT Research Paper [Carnival Booth] []

    Schneier on Security: Profiling []

    Proxy bombs [] are also difficult to screen for with profiles.

  • by Col. Bloodnok ( 825749 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @10:14PM (#44334517)

    I think Schneier wrote about this in 'Beyond Fear'. A book which I think should be required reading for all politicians and policy makers.

    The security staff in Israeli airports are trained to look for people 'acting hinky' - they have years of experience in this and an excellent record.

    The Taliban in particular are not above using innocent women or children as remotely detonated 'suicide' vest victims - sometimes willing, but often not.

    There is nothing preventing a mixed approach. Randomise searches by all means (I agree with Schneier, it can't not improve security), but you need the human behavioral analysis to bolster this for better security - that analysis is best done by trained professionals, something which the TSA are currently, not.

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @10:22PM (#44334557)

    Wrong. Now that we secure cockpit doors and passengers are willing to fight back (neither of which violate anyone's freedoms), such hijackings are simply not going to happen.

    That said, even if we didn't have either of those things, I believe freedom is more important than security, so toss your "happy medium" right in the garbage.

  • Re:Same in Mexico. (Score:4, Informative)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @10:57PM (#44334705)

    Most of the world is pretty civilized about customs... it's really only the US, and a couple of airports in Canada and large airports in Europe that are gestapo-land.

    I've seen tighter security at Dayton, Ohio than I did last time I flew into Charles de Gaulle: on arrival in Paris, we formed a lineup for customs, and a guard came out and shouted to the line "anybody with a Canadian passport, line up here", and those of us with Canadian passports didn't have to pass a security check at all, they just asked if we wanted the CDG stamp on the passport and waved us through. And that was post-9/11. On the way back, it was pretty much the same... put your bag through the x-ray machine, go through a metal detector, and they let you on the plane. I'm guessing that they'd already done the security/background checks, since you need to give your passport number when you buy the plane ticket these days, but it could just be that Air France is more civilized about things like that.

    Still... by far the most relaxed security I've ever seen in an airport was in Willemstad, Curacao. The plane landed at 4am, which probably had something to do with it, but it was basically a case of "welcome to the island, enjoy your stay!" for everybody.

  • Re:Same in Mexico. (Score:4, Informative)

    by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Friday July 19, 2013 @11:56PM (#44334901)
    Oh for crying out loud, you do realize that "American Carol" along with the "Christian Extremists" movie within it was satire and making fun of people like you who tryi to equate christianity with violence? Ted Kaczynski was a criminal? Are you going to start looking at every damn criminal and see what their background is? David Koresh was a cult leader which precludes him being a christian (see the ten commandments) and the IRA was an armed struggle against british imperialism. The fact that most of the IRA were catholic had something to do with the long history of the british discriminating against catholics. Examples of this would include Quebec and England itself. The British used religion as an excuse.

    But again, I would challenge you to show me examples of people that would be classified as terrorists bombing public places like an airport or other terminal in the name of christ. I would also challenge you to find scripture to support such a thing. There is no such text but there is plenty of examples in the Koran by their prophet himself about committing violence the name of their faith.

    If you follow the example of Christ as a fundamentalist, you will not commit violence but if you follow the example of Mohammed as a fundamentalist then you will kill in the name of your religion even if it means committing suicide. Suicide is considered a terrible sin in Christianity so that would preclude a suicide christian bomber.

    Going back to David Koresh, he and his followers basically self-imulated themselves in their own compound. I would hardly compare that to a bomber attacking a public place.

  • Re:Same in Mexico. (Score:4, Informative)

    I'll take the bait. Ever been to Nigeria?

    There are Christian Extremists just like there are Muslim Extremists -- and there are Hindi Extremists as well, for that matter. The rest of the logic is left as an exercise for the reader.

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley