Schneier on Security
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March 6, 2009
I'm sure you need some skill to actually use this, and I'm also sure it'll get through airport security checkpoints just fine.
Posted on March 6, 2009 at 6:05 AM
• 45 Comments
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Surely an old fashioned fountain pen with a steel nib would be just as effective and a lot cheaper?
I managed to accidental stab myself with one while at school and it both hurt and the ink stain tattoo lasted for years before fading.
Meh - might get in trouble when they discover it. Better to carry a traditional all-steel ballpoint?
hard to explain IF found
good'ol' martial arts would do, or rolled up newspaper etc etc - just look at prisons and what ideas they come up with!
PS i know it ONLY from TV, i swear!
Seems a little pricey. However the self defense barn coat "ideal for concealed carry" on clearance is pretty sharp. The J. Peterman of lethality?
I like the idea that all of their products are potentially deadly, makes good business sense too: you never have to worry about legal liability or the CPSC.
Now *that* is a pen that's mightier than the sword! But only if the sword is very small...
Honestly, stuff like that is such a gimmick. Really, it doesn't look any more effective than any other pointy object, and it is NOT going to scare anyone. Guns and knives are useful at least as much as a deterrent as they are as an actual force. This doesn't have that, and I think if you were trained enough to use this, you could do almost as much damage (if not more) barehanded.
So you're all afraid of a PEN? C'mon!
This is nothing but a pen-shaped Kubotan. Various companies make them, and they're hard to use.
You don't stab people with them, you use them to get more leverage and/or aim for nerve points.
In the right hands they're quite effective, but they need LOTS of training - and you can get the same effect with any pen strong enough so it doesn't break instantly (for example all metal pens)
@Juergen:"This is nothing but a pen-shaped Kubotan."
It's not really, pens have at least one sharp end.
The Bourne Identity has a fight scene where a biro pen was used as a weapon.
Pens, pencils or any similarly pointy object can act as a crude but effective weapons... although how quickly one can get their hands on it would matter, i.e. if its in a bag or if its in an open pocket.
there goes "Pen is mightier than a sword" .. what's this world coming to!
Thanks for the info! I'd been reading it, trying to figure out what part of the specs made it "Extreme Defense"!
There was a pen used as a weapon in Grosse Pointe Blank. As I recall, it was a freebie.
I can remember years ago on the Dick Cavett show, G. Gordon Liddy said he taught his secretary to kill an attacker with a pencil. After Dick asked, Liddy refused to give details. Highly entertaining!
About a year ago, I flew through the UK to the USA. As part of the pre-boarding interview, they asked "do you have anything that could be mistaken for or used as a weapon?" What I was thinking: "I have two shoe laces, a scarf, a ballpoint pen, and a glass vase." What I said: "No."
A kubaton (which is pretty much what that is) can be a very effective weapon with training, and pretty good at force multiplication with just a little (just like holding a roll of quarters when punching can be effective). It also gives hard points for different strikes and the ability to do more jointlocks (though that requires lots of training).
My sister does a lot of travel, including in some more dangerous places, and has a "Sharkie" (a similar idea, except that it is based off of a marker). I've looked at it and it can be very viscious. It's also made its way through airport security numerous times.
The purpose of one of these weapons is not deterrence. They are very much last line of defense weapons and are designed to get you out of bad situations. For that, they can work quite well.
P.S. I wouldn't trust any of my regular pens for this use as none (including my metal ones) would be strong enough.
I fear pencils. Ask the woman Nikita.
"I can remember years ago on the Dick Cavett show, G. Gordon Liddy said ..."
I seem to remember something about Liddy defending himself while he was in prison, once, with a bar of soap and a sock.
There's always a weapon around.
From a Stephen King novel: a toaster inside a pillow case makes a damn effective weapon.
Anything heavy which can be swung around works pretty well.
> with a bar of soap and a sock.
Ooops, you were faster, didn't see your post.
If you are going to carry a Kubotan, as Takayuki Kubota used to say, you might as well attach some keys or write with it.
A 99-cent Bic will work just as well.
I'm trained in the use of kuboton. A sharpie or other strong marker/pen works about as well in a pinch. They can easily be deadly, but so can no weapon at all. It all comes down to training, and airport security can't evaluate that.
Padlock in a sock is more effective than a bar of soap. Almost anything can be used as a weapon, though not always particularly effectively.
What do we learn from all this? That pens, soap and socks should be forbidden at security checkpoints.
I'm not concerned about things like the self defense pen, things in socks, box cutters, etc. on a plane. Any fool who tried to take over a plane with them would be beat to a pulp by dozens of passengers.
The shoe bomb thing is a bit trickier. I tend to agree with the CYA argument that it's silly for us all to take our shoes off because of one guys stunt. On the flip side, if they stopped checking shoes, a copy cat or other nutjob would just have to go to the lavatory so no one could see him try to set it off (visual attempts is how the first guy got caught). But for the most part, I wouldn't be concerned with it either.
This may be immature, but if any fool tried to take over a plane with a pen, my biggest hope is that someone captured some video so I can watch him get clobbered on You Tube. :)
Great. How long before we can't carry writing utensils onto planes?
I wonder how long it will be before you have to check EVERYTHING and put on a TSA-issued travel gown in order to fly. I'd like to think that it will never come to that, but some days I wonder.
@Caleb: And that gown would have to be open in the back, so that your mandatory TSA-exam can be performed quickly.
> I fear pencils. Ask the woman Nikita.
And the Joker. Love his "disappearing pencil" trick.
From the same site, this device looks like a key on a ring:
I might have mistakenly taken several flights with this on my keyring. It is useful for removing nylon cable ties that 'lock' my luggage.
They might ban pens and pencils on planes, but they would probably be happy to sell you one of those little flexible plastic pens you get in jail to use on your flight. They might even sell them to you so no one can take your pen and use it against you. Just dont try to actually write anything with it. Side note: padlocks are allowed in many jails despite their potential use as a weapon because allowing inmates to lock up their commisary is thought to prevent more harm than the lock-in-a-sock causes.
> Side note: padlocks are allowed in many jails despite their potential use as a weapon because allowing inmates to lock up their commisary is thought to prevent more harm than the lock-in-a-sock causes.
First, I'm assuming that we're talking about combination padlocks here; with the skill set typically found in prisons, the key custodian would very quickly lose control of the key otherwise.
But I still don't quite follow the reasoning there. If the commissary had a built-in lock, they could still lock it up, but not take away the lock to use as a weapon. But worse, padlocks offer too many security problems when operated in an untrusted environment, e.g. if the unlocked lock is left in place, it may be replaced by a substitute for which the attacker has the key, or from which the pins have been removed so that any key works. On the other hand, if the lock is kept in the custodian's pocket while the door is open, then this usually leaves the hasp vulnerable to tampering. A built-in lock is far more secure in this environment.
One look at the specs to that thing tells me it would never have passed by x-ray screening. (At least not at a checkpoint worth its salt.)
- 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum.
- CNC Machined.
- Type II Class 3 Hard Anodized.
That's going to look mighty strange on the screen.
I was talking about a combination lock on the inmates locker for storing their personal commisary. A built in lock might be better but what about a repeat offender who learns the combination to a locker and then leaves, comes back and robs the new inmate who is using it? I know their must be a better solution but in Anne Arundel county jails and Prince Georges county jails they still use combination locks purchased from commisary to let inmates protect their property. I have also heard that it is used in Maryland prisons but I havent seen it myself.
Illustrates how the politicians/bureaucrats are destroying our society.
The primary reason we have law enforcement SHOULD be to make it unnecessary for ordinary people to know anything about "self-defense".
What law enforcement is actually used for, nowadays, is mainly to bully people on behalf of the pols/bureaucrats, enabling them to appear to be "in control".
They'll spend billions on "airport security checks" supposed to reduce your hijack risk from negligible to negligible. But they won't spend a tenth of that sum on reducing your risk of being mugged on the street, which is thousands of times more probable. So ordinary people might actually need to know something about self-defense ...
Before long, some goofball will be making beaucoup bucks hawking Self-Defense Crayons, and the cons00mers will suck THEM up. Then the government will outlaw THOSE, and.... Jeez, bub, this whole country is just getting SAD.
Will somebody just turn out the lights?
"One look at the specs to that thing tells me it would never have passed by x-ray screening. (At least not at a checkpoint worth its salt.)
- 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum.
- CNC Machined.
- Type II Class 3 Hard Anodized.
That's going to look mighty strange on the screen."
Not really. X-Ray systems can't tell what metal it is or how it's constructed. Not that the metal, anodizing, or construction are at all unusual. Maglights are built in much the same way out of the same materials.
Are you kidding me? I'm not sure you know how to interpret an x-ray scanner's image if that's your final answer right there.
I can tell the difference between a whole lot of metals just by their density.
Anyway, that's what it's about - density and shape, and that thing is going to stick out.
And exactly how an x-ray scanner could tell any density and shape difference between a common pen, a 2.70 g·cm−3 dense cylinder made out soft and inexpensive 1x or 2x Aluminium alloy, and a tactical pen, a 2.70 g·cm−3 dense cylinder made outo of 6x Al with 10 times the tensile strenght of the first one in the same weight and size?
You can already carry razor sharp knives onto a plane.
Current rules allow you to take all-metal scissors with pointed blades up to 4 inches long onto planes. Just unscrew the screw holding the scissors together and you have two knives. (Can't take yogurt through checkpoints though!)
"I can tell the difference between a whole lot of metals just by their density.
Anyway, that's what it's about - density and shape, and that thing is going to stick out."
6061 aluminum is a very common grade. In bar or plate form, it's one of the less expensive ones, and it cuts well making it very popular for milled items. Sounds great in advertising, too. If you have any aluminum items in your luggage, they are probably made from 6061. One chunk of 6061 isn't going to stand out from any other chunk on that basis.
Anodizing is a surface coating only a few thousands of an inch thick, so an X-ray scanner isn't going to be able to detect it. Airport X-ray systems are not powerful enough to penetrate metals to the extent needed to determine density anyway. If they were, you could not operate them that close to people without some kind of radiological control systems in place.
Lastly, the item in question is one of those 'too dangerous to carry, not dangerous enough to arrest people for' items. Even if you get caught with it, all that will happen is the TSA will take it from you.
I get the impression that HJohn is confusing "offence" and "defence" since he's talking about it being funny to watch someone try to take over a plane with a pen--something which clearly falls into the offence category.
I expect the percentage of hackers who can pick locks is probably higher than the percentage of crooks who can pick locks. Why pick the lock when you can just take a sledgehammer to the door?
Anyone who doesn't believe this would be an effective weapon is confused. Also the profile of this pen is odd. It has more of the outline of a tool than a pen and many X-ray operators would take notice of it and visually inspect it. It would not stand up to the scrutiny of a visual inspection. Trying to bring this on a plane could lead to your arrest by an alert TSA officer.
Any titanium nibbed fountain pen will do the trick. Never seen the Casino film with Joe Pesci in it? Best of all it is legal as a self defence weapon. you can test it on a can of coke.
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