Schneier on Security
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October 17, 2008
Now why didn't I think of that?
Posted on October 17, 2008 at 6:16 AM
• 47 Comments
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Oh great. Did you notice that we're at a point where ordinary citizens are actually thinking and talking about how to protect themselves from their own government?
Dang, I came here to say something witty, but nico just summed up this story too well.
It's going to be outlawed soon - just like gasmasks, "bulletproof" vests etc. cannot be worn at demonstrations in certain countries (Germany, for example).
@Nico: Two replies. First, the article seemed to me to be more about the possibility of officers encountering Taser-wielding criminals, than ordinary people (criminal or otherwise) defending themselves from Taser-wielding police (who have other weapons they can escalate to if needed). Second... letting people defend themselves against their own government is precisely what the Bill of Rights, and in particular the Second Amendment, is all about.
I thought of that when I first read about tasers.
Another good use for tinfoil.
And tinfoil hats do protect against people aiming at the head.
I have to wonder though. Why would criminals invest in tasers when good ol'6 shooters works so well? I think that criminals will see more value in the protection gear than the taser itself...
I believe the point of police being armed with tasers is so that they have a non-lethal (in most circumstances) weapon which will subdue someone (hopefully a criminal)
If criminals take to wearing taser-proof clothing, the police will resort to lethal methods.
I would not advise anyone to use such clothing.
This will not end well. Let's see what cops do when they tase someone and they just stand there looking at them...
The cops are liable to lose self-control or they will act very polite and request the person to please lay on the ground.
Rodney King reinactment in 3,2,1.
FYI. In Norfolk, the hula hoop lady was tased three times and taken into custody. All she had was a mental disability, two barely functioning arms, and hula hoop. oh, and she's 50 y.o.
From the article: "People armed with Tasers will now aim at the head - the officer may end up blind."
It wasn't possible to aim at the officer's head before this patent was granted?
@lattera: That's exactly what I was thinking. The argument that this isn't good for officers because criminals will shoot at their head is pretty weak. By that logic officers shouldn't wear bullet proof vests either.
@bahbar: I would say that criminals might invest in a taser rather than a six shooter because it would be more difficult to convict the criminal of attempted murder or assault with a deadly weapon if you were using a non lethal weapon.
Actually better cloathing than this has been around for quite some time to the likes of very high voltage voltage (250000+) power line workers and more interestingly to those working in and around high power RF transmission lines and antennas especialy in the low microwave frequencies.
Now a thought occurs there have been designs for HERF Guns up on the internet at one time or another (basicaly gut a home microwave oven and a UPS and add an amature radio waveguide and antenna).
Now the serious downside of HERF Guns has always been "side lobe radiation" and lack of good "back to front ratio" meaning that the operator was going to get a serious dose of microwaves.
Cloaths such as these could make building and using your own HERF Gun a lot safer....
This is rather silly, 'til the Taser patent runs out.
Taser ammo has to be activated with the taser, and you actually have to register it.
When you fire, the mechanism leaves evidence that gives positive ID on a criminal.. all based on the activation.
Unless it's a STOLEN taser, firing it on a cop is a 100% trace back to you... even if you subsequently kill all the witnesses.
Would a bullet-proof vest not be a proper defense anyway?
Would the technology work against stun guns and stun batons? That seems like a more realistic risk; at least those don't leave positive ID on the crime scene.
This vest might work against Active Denial Systems (another "non-lethal" way to protect citizens against themselves)?
@lee: The San Diego regularly shoot (and kill) mentally ill bums armed with sticks, branches or other weapons of mass destruction.
The San Diego regularly shoot...
The San Diego Police regularly shoot...
"The San Diego regularly shoot (and kill) mentally ill bums armed with sticks, branches or other weapons of mass destruction."
If you'd prefer to stand your ground when confronting a mentally ill person with a deadly weapon, go right ahead. No complaints from your family about the cost of your funeral, please.
SDPD issues nunchucks. Unless the officer knows what they're doing with them, they go directly to guns. Waiting for a sergeant to show up with a Taser is too little too late.
Taser is a lifesaving tool, and these situations are exactly why.
@ Steve Wright (from the article)
>> says this will prompt increasingly dangerous Taser use: "People armed with Tasers will now aim at the head - the officer may end up blind."
Even a Taser hit in the eyeball does not guarantee blindness. I've heard of two cases of this: one where the person yanked out the dart and lost sight in that eye; another where the officers reassured them 'it happened all the time' and took them to the hospital where a surgeon was able to remove the dart safely.
>> Steve Wright, an expert on non-lethal weapons at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK,
I'm underwhelmed by an expert on non-lethal weapons who doesn't understand the basics of how a Taser works, and in a country that bans guns too.
The nature of the dart spread makes head shots unwieldy at best, more likely impossible beyond point blank.
Taser proof clothing would encourage officers to go hands on with the emotionally disturbed, knowing that if they touch the wires while cuffing or get accidentally Tased (hey, it can happen!) that they won't then be helpless in close contact with the EDP.
As for a criminal who wears Taser proof clothing, that seems an open invitation to deadly force. Awkward if the original issue is a misdemeanor.
I've even heard the argument that Tasering suspects reduces worker's compensation claims by police officers (they don't get hurt as much going hands on.)
A criminal may use a taser to avoid being charged with assault with a deadly weapon, even if the 'non-lethal' weapon causes death, and he also avoids the problems of any gun charges. Our government keeps up the pretense that the use of weapons which have the official stamp of approval as 'non-lethal' precludes any charge of using a deadly weapon.
Thus a rapist or robber has the option of reducing his criminal liability by favoring tasers over knives or guns.
And if he needs a gun, all he needs is to get his hands on a taser, find a uniformed police officer alone, zap him, and take his sidearm, ammunition, badge, truncheon, handcuffs, keys, pepper spray, knives, plus his taser if he's got one, and whatever illegal weapons he's carrying, such as brass knuckles or saps. If he doesn't want to leave a witness behind, well, he's got options now.
(Is there a better name than The Law of Unintended Consequences?)
I've wondered for a while if you could make clothing out of conductive thread (available from SparkFun -- http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/... that would work the same way. If so, there's no need for a layer of foil.
@Roy: Yeah, why do we spend all that money on police academies and stuff.
All they need is target practice. "Hey look at that loud bum yelling in the alley. Bam! Reload, bam!". Case closed.
Next years fashion item could well be chain mail. Protects against knives, arrows, swords and now tasers.
I've always wondered why you couldn't lase the Microwaves.
Plate Mail is much more fashionable, and with a good helmet, it protects your head, too :-)
I'm curious why you're suggesting that it's impossible to get around the confetti that it leaves. Even ignoring low-tech solutions (hand-held vacuum cleaners, placing fake confetti on the scene, etc.), I'd assume that the confetti is either removable or replaceable with a component that doesn't contain confetti. The only question in my mind is how difficult it is to do.
"I've always wondered why you couldn't lase the Microwaves."
You can; it's called a maser and was invented before the laser.
@ Nomen Publicus,
"Next years fashion item could well be chain mail. Protects against knives, arrows, swords and now tasers."
Not sure about the taser but no chainmail does not protect against arrows which is why solid plate armour was developed.
Nor does chainmail protect against , rapiers (a type of sword) or stilettos (a type of knife) or any other slim point used in a thrust attack such as pikes etc. or chopstics and knitting needels for that matter.
Plate armour was usually worn over chainmail which in turn was worn over layers of wool etc under which was tight leather cloathing. The idea as in modern body armour was to spread the energy of any impact and thereby blunt it's effect.
However unlike modern body armour the tight leather cloathing worn over wool and linen under cloathing provided a great deal of extra protection.
If you could not aford chainmail you would usually wear a jacket which had cords of tightly wound plant stems sewen in as this helped spread the force of a broad sword swing.
Most early battle field deaths where due to broken bones and ruptured organs and puncture wounds not direct cuts from edged weapons. In fact the "war hammer" or mace where considered more effective weapons than the broad sword.
It was only the invention of the crossbow that put an end to plate as at more than 600 foot pound the metal plate of the time could not stop a six ounce crossbow bolt (which would go through a foot or more of oak plank).
You win the nerd award for the day. Beat me to it :)
I wonder if a simple "crossing guard" type safety vest or "plate" made of copper screen could be used as an under-or-over garment?
What if one probe lands on the vest and another lands, say, on the target's thigh. Does the vest spread out the contact area of one of the probes reduce or increase the effectiveness of the taser?
Also, does the short in question produce burns or increase the risk of the targets clothes catching fire or melting? Sometimes a "little shock" is better than being lit on fire.
Looks like I have some testing to do!!!
@Kevin: The whole purpose of the weaponry is to ensure they won't be caught, being caught is not an eventuality in their mind so weither or not they'll be charge with attempted murder or simple assault don't cross their mind.
"Oh great. Did you notice that we're at a point where ordinary citizens are actually thinking and talking about how to protect themselves from their own government?"
What do you mean? Isn't that what the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is all about??
to john waters, I would expect that for it to work, it has to have an underlayer of non conductive material. When I read the article, it seemed like they were talking about metal coated mylar, which may suffice as the non conductive under coat, but it also occured to me that the contact between the dart and the mylar would not be constant and secure, as well as the fabric would have to be punched full of holes just so the thing could 'breath' and you wouldn't sweat inside it as can happen with some rain suits. I would guess that a nylon with metal strands in the weave may also breath, and perhaps short out the voltage. I see some ghetto clothes that are popular now that have a lot of what appears to be something like gold foil artwork on it now. whatever this stuff is, an inner layer of it would possibly short the voltage, but the barbs would still hurt. perhaps a zylon or kevlar tight weave with some metal threads would prevent deep penetration.
Perhaps it's just the first step towardes security of wearable computers.
The point is not why one wants/needs this clothing, it is about defending against a threat. Tasers maybe a threat for whatever reason to people and so they have the right to even the field. Self-defense is a fundamental right and duty. I think this is a great concept, and it should also be designed so it can be worn without giving any noticeable signature. An ambitious individual could well make a fortune here as it is an undeveloped field. Last point, I am thinking about a friend who has a bone-plate because of an injury, and if this individual was ever tased, it would be a life changing event. Police and people who have lawful access to these devices are not always right and they are often times in fact, trigger happy bullies. Knowing this, I fear this may happen to this person if they are set on by a bully cop. An article of clothing at least to cover this body part, would well save their limb if this were to happen.
@clive robinson - this clothing doesn't really fix the primary problem with most poorly-constructed homemade HERF guns, which is that they have a bad habit of cooking things like your sensory organs or brain tissue.
obviously you can make a hood, but that tends to put you on poor ground with the local authorities when worn in more civil times, and a target for enforcement agencies during times of disorder.
@ Schneier Reader,
"obviously you can make a hood, but that tends to put you on poor ground with the local authorities when worn in more civil times, and a target for enforcement agencies during times of disorder."
Ah, you are obviously not aware of the reason why some stick up artists and hitmen work from motor bikes... full face helmets.
Oh and your average teenage hoodie can hide all sorts under the hood (some jackets actuall come with zip up face masks with small eye google pieces like the old fashioned snow suits.
On of the joys of microwaves is the shorted quaterwave line which you will find around the doors of all microwave ovens, which makes a conductor into effectivly an open circuit. And that RF has a real problem going through an apature of less than 1/16 of a wavelength.
You could quite easily shield the inside surface of a full face helmet and provide a kneck cloth down into a jacket. Which leaves the face and on examining the average microwave door you will see a perforated metal screen so you get the idea of what is required...
However as I noted and "h" elaborated on, there is already comercial clothing available not just to "linesmen" but to Microwave engineers as well. The hood gloves and in fact most of the suit would quite happily hide benieth a motorcycle outfit has to be synthetic though not leather (leather realy does heat up a great deal in a microwave if it's waxed, polished or oiled).
My choice of antenna would probably be a folded horn as the front to back is very good and the side lobes tend to be controlable with a quater wave channel around the edge. And with a little imagination it can be built quite easily into one of those "tool/equipment cases" that have an external frame and black plastic or aluminium sheet as the sides etc. Or detachable motorbike panniers.
You would need to put the switch somewhere conveinient but not obvious like in the handel etc.
You might need to put the batteries (four motobike sized sealed lead acid batteries unlike the alarm or usual UPS batteries these tend to have a very low internal series resistance) and UPS into another case and run the cable up one sleave and down the other.
But it realy is an awkward way to do things and the cable might be fairly obvious as well.
And yes if the penny has not yet dropped I have made something almost identical being a licenced amature I have built a couple of high power FM transportables and worked silly distances across London etc with a friend. The most expensive part by far (ie more than the rest of the units) was the flexible waveguide and that stuff realy is silly money.
I wrote an article on the design for a local radio club but the old HF boys just went "Naghn nun that darn'd plumbing"...
@Barbar: "And tinfoil hats do protect against people aiming at the head."
Yes, and a mourning veil made of metal chains can help a lot making a stealth taser-proff clothing looking like normal mourning clothes.
4-5 years ago when police taser assaults first started making the news I did a web search for taser proof clothes. Back then I found a manufacturer of a taser proof cloth. They would only sell to military and law enforcement though. I also found a company that sells metal mesh fabric for people scared of microwaves and have always wondered if that would work.
I like the idea, but there are problems. In response to what someone said about only one electrode hitting the metal--aren't they both on the same dart? That's how I thought they were configured.
"aren't they both on the same dart? That's how I thought they were configured."
Yes and no, if you look at drawings of the projectile on the website, you will see that the projectile has two barbed prongs a short distance apart with two seperate wires going back to the gun.
There is also a paper there about how the waveform generated is specifficly designed not to cause the heart to go into VF etc.
However one cardiologist I showed the paper to had some less than subtal comments about the assumptions used, and showed me some work on waveforms being used on automatic difibs that you are starting to see on railway station concourses in London and other major cities in the U.K.
The cardiologists viewpoint appears to be backed up by other reasearch you will find published by the likes of the IEEE etc.
Basicaly the dangerous assumption is that "a healthy heart should not be disrupted by a current which is present for less than 30mS".
Little or no research has been done either on repeated short duration pulses (what the taser uses) or single or multiple short duration pulses on unhealth hearts. Infact there are a series of papers about using such pulsed waveforms to induce iregularities in the heart sinus rythum for diagnostic purposes that does not bode well for various pro taser claims.
When you consider that something like 40% of cases of death by heart problems there is no known previous indicators that there is a problem with the heart. And in the case of susceptability to VF well nobody knows unless you have previously survived an attack. The test which sometimes triggers VF is sometimes called the "treadmill test" and involves stressing you out physicaly and monitoring your heart sinus wave for iregularity. Unfortunatly a significant percentage of people go into VF with no warning which is why there is a "crash trained" staff in the room with you when you take the test.
Oh and my own research tends to sugest that the taser unit is not compliant with the E.U. RTTE, EMC or LV directives, which means that they cannot be sold or operated in the EU/EEC area except under an exsemption for "national security"...
Ummm... kind of hard to hit the head anyway, even with a handgun. Tasers have diverging projectiles and are not exactly precision instruments anyway. Very hard, from any distance, to place both projectiles in the head.
I was a Sergeant for 17 years in Atlanta. I saw people Tased for little or no reason and it really disturbed me. Back in the day, Police we were trained to use Tasers on suspects who are violent, pose a danger to themselves or others or were about to charge at an officer. Instead Police, in particular use them to gain your compliance through threats and inflicting pain. This is an illegal practice and useless in my experience as nothing obtained through this method can be used in court.
Through my years in Georgia I have seen Tasers used against people with their backs turned, non-violent offenders, people on the ground, people in hand cuffs, on many women, children and even the diabetic. The screams they let out are blood curdling and there is barely a mark left on their body. None of my written concerns about Tasers and our use of them were addressed, which was highly irregular. Most of my former officers reported smiling and laughing as they administered electric shocks. They told stories about how subjects couldn't surrender even if they wanted to because of the effects of this weapon. Every time an electric charge is dealt to someone it is recorded on the device, but can very easily be changed or erased within seconds leaving no evidence except two little marks on your skin and your word. This is not what Law Enforcement meant to me, so I quit. I have never seen Law Enforcement so out of control in all my 48 years.
I would encourage anyone to be very wary of Police until things are sorted out through the courts via lawsuits. Avoid them by using your Rights, radar detectors and common sense. Until then they are not your friends, and are paid on a quota system based on how many Citizens they hassle in a day. At the moment Police are essentially a well organized, heavily armed street gang terrorizing the people and extorting money.
I agree with Concerned "law" enforcement as well as government rules policies, etc have gotten out of control. I believe that taser resistant "cloth" can be made out of duct tape and aluminum foil. The aluminum foil should have duct tape on each side. Once made, the "cloth" can be made into clothing to be worn under jackets, etc. seems can have a few strands of thin wire added to make sure there is conduction between each piece of "cloth."
Once the taser garment is made, consider adding pieces of tin (NOT aluminum) flashing as further plating. Each piece of tin flashing can be electrically connected by soldering between other pieces of tin.
Worn under jackets, this can provide enough protection against a bullying cop to either give one enough time to get away or neutralize the cop. The surprise that a cop would have by one not immediately succumbing to the effect of the taser may give the citizen enough time to act.
The trick is to fake being shocked- fall to the ground, flail around, make gurgling noises... And when the cop gets close enough and bends down to cuff you, neutralize him with a quickly deployable expandable baton. He will have dropped his guard because in his experience, once a subject has been tazed, they are always dazed and unable to fight for some time. He will then have already holstered his sidearm, and will not be expecting your hasty retribution.
As for those AFID tags - all you have to do is open up the cartridge and remove them... They are in no way integral to the functioning of the cartridge, as they are not propellant! They need not be replaced or substituted as the other poster alluded to.
"If the people fear the government there will be tyranny, if the government fears the people there will be liberty"
I thought of this basic idea years ago... I could have been filthy rich
except if duct tape and aluminum is effective, then nobody will get rich except Alcoa and the International Consortium of Duct-tape Manufacturers, or the Duct Corporation, or whoever makes duct tape.
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