Needless Panic Over a Wi-FI Network Name

A Turkish Airlines flight made an emergency landing because someone named his wireless network (presumably from his smartphone) "bomb on board."

In 2006, I wrote an essay titled "Refuse to be Terrorized." (I am also reminded of my 2007 essay, "The War on the Unexpected." A decade later, it seems that the frequency of incidents like the one above is less, although not zero. Progress, I suppose.

Posted on December 1, 2017 at 9:56 AM • 62 Comments

Comments

RhysDecember 1, 2017 10:58 AM

Seems that we revisit insecurity as the inverse of security on a more frequent basis.

As long as so many practitioners & consumers suffer the belief that attacks only serve rational purposes- rational responses to the irrational will continue to perturb their sanguine torpor.

Insecurity is a dysfunction better left to psychologists. Not computer scientists & technologists.

Allowance for other human frailties, foibles, & dysfunctions should be part of Uncertainty accommodations in our systems. (Particularly in this case, entertainment systems.)

ChelloveckDecember 1, 2017 11:52 AM

Even as a kid in the 70s we were warned against joking about bombs in airports, and not to greet your friend by yelling "Hi, Jack!" across the concourse. These days naming a wifi network "bomb on board" is about as funny as leaving a scrap of paper with that written on it where a flight attendant will find it, and I expect that an airline would react similarly.

Glonvec CorpDecember 1, 2017 11:54 AM

Have to keep the sheep living in fear, corporate entitled parasite elites and their politician puppet employees can't stay in power and justify their outrageous budgets if the citizens are educated, informed, and living in reality.

Clive RobinsonDecember 1, 2017 12:11 PM

@ Bruce,

A decade later, it seems that the frequency of incidents like the one above is less, although not zero. Progress, I suppose.

The reduction of people doing things like making sarchastic jokes to obnoxious airline check in staff[1], in what was once thought a sensible way to prick a pretentious ballon ego, is no longer so. Thus rather than stand up to the idiots most meek their way through having had one of their freedoms "chilled".

Thus authoritarian staff see much less than they did. Which might be progress for them but not for travelers.

Whilst there may have been a reduction in "over reaction" from staff in general I have no idea how you would quantify it let alone make rational measurement.

The stupidity still goes on. A friend who has a medical condition has a prescribed medication cream that they use around 30ml of a day. It does not come in amounts less than 500ml. Having checked they had the right paperwork they were told at checkin it could not go in the checked luggage but had to be taken through by hand where security confiscated the medication. My friend who protested and turned back to speak with the checkin staff was promptly detained and subject to harassment, loss of flight and was told they could not have their medication back, thus had to cancel their holiday to discover that all involved denied liability including the insurance company...

[1] A Chicago violinist, on being asked what was in their violin case by airline check in person replied in a vary sarchastic way implying it was not a violin but 1920's gangster tommy gun. The checkin person even having seen it was a violin then called security and complained of threating behaviour and so it escalated, the police were called and rather than respond in a sensible way escelated it again and so on... https://alastairs-place.net/blog/2004/01/21/joking-at-airpo/

TatütataDecember 1, 2017 2:08 PM

... is about as funny as leaving a scrap of paper with that written on it where a flight attendant will find it

Well, a note can STILL be funny, i.e., "I have a gub, abt natural".

A SSID that says "United Airlines" would fill me with fear...

hmmDecember 1, 2017 2:31 PM

Why shouldn't they take a strong safety-first course of action when they see that?

It's all 'overreacting' until something like this is found AFTER a terrorist attack, right?

Shoe bombers, underwear bombers, they're rare but they exist. A package blew up in a Fedex plane a few days ago. 2 bombs have been delivered by US mail in northern CA in the past month. Pipe bombs are found every day by the dozen.

Until you have an up close experience with the potential result you won't appreciate it.
It's not overreacting to take action and land the plane and check it, it's reacting.

People are inconvenienced. Some money is wasted. Nobody died. In this paradigm, that's a good outcome.


Yes. SirDecember 1, 2017 2:37 PM

If there is one thing that I have learned in my life it is that FBI an NSA surveillance vans are rife on college campuses and around public libraries.

AJWMDecember 1, 2017 3:00 PM

@hmm
People are inconvenienced. Some money is wasted. Nobody died. In this paradigm, that's a good outcome.

Is it? So "even if it saves just one life" it's always worth it? There's always a trade-off. That wasted money could have gone to something that saved someone else's life. The extra landing and take-off of that Turkish Airlines flight added measurable risk to the life of everyone on board (most air crashes occur on landing or take-off).

You should always do the math.

JeremyDecember 1, 2017 3:26 PM

I don't think this is entirely clear-cut.

If a serious-seeming passenger surreptitiously hands a flight attendant a note saying "I have reason to think there's a bomb on board," presumably that would warrant some kind of reaction.

A wi-fi network name seems marginally plausible as a covert channel for someone trying to relay a message without the bomber noticing. (Marginally.)

Impossibly StupidDecember 1, 2017 4:06 PM

@hmm

Why shouldn't they take a strong safety-first course of action when they see that?

There's nothing "safety-first" about having a knee-jerk reaction to threats that aren't credible. I mean, do you think that every person with their hands in their pockets might be going for a weapon? It's about as likely as this WiFi naming "threat". Best to shoot them all, hmm, just to be safe?

It's all 'overreacting' until something like this is found AFTER a terrorist attack, right?

Only if the flight crew doesn't have the mental capacity or training to assess real threats. The onus is on you to forward a plausible scenario where it makes sense for a terrorist to broadcast their intention like this and then not act when the crew takes action.

People are inconvenienced. Some money is wasted. Nobody died. In this paradigm, that's a good outcome.

No. The default outcome was already going to be that nobody died, because there was no credible threat. If there were actually a bomb on the plane, I expect the terrorist would have detonated it at some point when they knew they were exposed, so people would die regardless of how far the plane got on it's intended trip.

The actual outcome of this is another tool terrorists can use to disrupt air travel: just leave (or have a confederate onboard activate) coordinated hotspots on a lot of planes at once. I've always thought it would be much smarter for terrorists to cause costly screw ups in logistics like that rather than trying to actually kill people. That's why the stupid TSA response to the failed shoe bomber is a far greater terrorist victory than the damage the bomb itself could have done to the plane. Stop supporting terrorists like that, hmm.

hmmDecember 1, 2017 4:46 PM

" to threats that aren't credible. "

You've already determined that the threat was NOT credible, in realtime, as the plane is flying over the ocean with lives at stake?

How? Why would landing to check that out be considered some great catastrophic cost or overreaction?

It's neither. It's SOP because checking out threats they aren't sure about is a GOOD IDEA.

I honestly don't see what alternative course you're offering except "Do nothing and see what happens."

I don't advocate for everything the TSA does so you can stop right there with your strawmen theater.

"Stop supporting terrorists like that, hmm."

- Clive this is beneath you honestly. Having a bad day? Someone frisk you the wrong way?

hmmDecember 1, 2017 4:50 PM

@ Impossibly stupid - You aren't Clive, I was responding to you.

Why do you think you have some right to board a plane anyway?

If you want to be a hero of personal privacy, you can walk.

RhysDecember 1, 2017 5:00 PM

Neurosis consuming us with analysis paralysis?

What if, what if, what if...shoulda, coulda, woulda. The 'perfect' make enemies of the 'good'.

It is the season for fruitcakes. Time to be thankful. And it does take all kinds of nuts to make the fruitcake.

Serve with more Everclear, less brandy. Perfect still remains the enemy of good.

hmmDecember 1, 2017 5:00 PM

"The onus is on you to forward a plausible scenario where it makes sense for a terrorist to broadcast their intention like this and then not act when the crew takes action."

Nope, you're just nuts/trolling.

Flight staff are trained to report to their chain of command all potential O-O-O (out of ordinary) security threat possibilities from a loooong list of things, and among them is the word "bomb" in any context. That's a standing order backed by FAA regulation and god knows what else since 9/11.

So you're wrong. They're not in a position to evaluate that, they report it.
The captain makes a decision and usually ultimately errs on the side of caution.
NOT doing that would be a career mistake if the FAA launched an investigation.

You want to go into the TSA and say they touch people inappropriately and a whole host of other non-related things and pretend I'm vouching for everything ever done in the name of security, no, that's a worthless attempt.

Bottom line : YOU DO NOT KNOW what the credible threat is or isn't. You err @ caution.

- Or you're not qualified for the job, frankly.

LouiseBDecember 1, 2017 5:15 PM

A wi-fi network name seems marginally plausible as a covert channel for someone trying to relay a message without the bomber noticing. (Marginally.)

Seems like a movie plot threat to me. By which I mean the network name is literally a quote from the movie Speed. (By the way, how would the "experts" possibly conclude the network was created on board?)

A "marginally plausible" maybe-threat might be (marginally) enough to have the flight attendants look around, not to make the plane land. If more than marginally plausible, they might consider whether landing is a reasonable option—who's to say the bomb won't go off when the plane drops below 50mph? (…it might make a better movie than the actual sequel.)

LouiseBDecember 1, 2017 5:23 PM

The captain makes a decision and usually ultimately errs on the side of caution. NOT doing that would be a career mistake if the FAA launched an investigation.

That's the problem, not a reason why it's a good idea to land the plane. People are making decisions based on perceptions of job security rather than threat assessment. (If there's an FAA regulation, please provide a link. I just can't believe every plane on which the word "bomb" was uttered has done an emergency landing. And really, "in any context", even if it was the in-flight movie or someone explaining said movie?)

By contrast, standard practice at a hospital, when someone phones in a bomb threat, is generally to not evacuate unless it's confirmed or there's a good reason to believe it's true. Instead they'll contact the police and ask the staff to look for suspicious packages etc.

hmmDecember 1, 2017 5:23 PM

"enough to have the flight attendants look around"

Flight attendants are the front lines but they're not bomb sniffing dogs. They have to land.

hmmDecember 1, 2017 5:28 PM

"People are making decisions based on perceptions of job security rather than threat assessment."

I disagree with your take, the job security issue only comes up if they don't follow the procedures for handling the report of a threat properly. - More so if it's a real incident where something bad happens, a lot more so.

The pilot errs on the side of caution as a general rule of aviation even BEFORE terrorism was a major consideration.

"I just can't believe every plane on which the word "bomb" was uttered has done an emergency landing."
- Go ahead, test out the theory in your local airport terminal. Bring about 10 grand with you, bail money.

justina colmenaDecember 1, 2017 6:58 PM

Those airlines are nothing but a flying red-light district. Whenever law enforcement comes around, they scream "Terrorism! Terrorism! Terrorism!" to distract police from the international sex-for-money human trafficking deals. Then as soon as the police officers leave, the wealthy gentlemen and high-dollar whores are right back in business snuggling up somewhere between the window and aisle seat, cash changing hands, and sipping the liquor served right onboard the plane.

hmmDecember 1, 2017 7:07 PM

So I guess terrorism isn't the real threat, it's wealthy gentlemen, their whores, and liquor?

Am I reading this right?

Panic: A Kitchen CompanionDecember 1, 2017 9:58 PM

How else are security / military budgets raised?
We know the recipe...

Perpetual State Of Panic (Glazed)
Serves 7 billion
  1. Raise temperature of perceived threat
  2. Knead perception into MSM and social networks
  3. Roll out increments of surveillance and "new behaviour"
  4. Freeze into law, retrospectively if desired
  5. Melt New Ways into MSM and social networks
  6. Bank-roll further "reality" TV shows (police, customs etc.) to evangelise new message and reinforce existing messages
  7. Heat slowly. Serve "chilled"
  8. (Public eat and enjoy it)
  9. When hungry for political gains or distraction, go back to 1

Over-reaction is truly the baseline of the 21st Century. As many here would attest, recommended served with popcorn. Bon appétit!

HermanDecember 2, 2017 2:37 AM

I named a WiFi "STD Clinic Free Access" in a city downtown office building and nobody else ever connected to it. It was studiously avoided...

Impossibly StupidDecember 2, 2017 10:08 AM

@hmm

You've already determined that the threat was NOT credible, in realtime, as the plane is flying over the ocean with lives at stake?

Yes.

How?

I used my brain. It's a handy tool. Consider doing the same yourself.

Why would landing to check that out be considered some great catastrophic cost or overreaction?

Because no genuine attack would have allowed you to just safely do that. Why is that so hard to understand? It just isn't plausible that terrorists would manage to get an actual bomb past security and then do nothing with it as their plans unravel. I'm still waiting for you to put forward a scenario that makes sense.

It's SOP because checking out threats they aren't sure about is a GOOD IDEA.

There is a world of difference between "checking out" and "emergency landing". It would take very little time or effort to scan the cabin for the joker/dickhead who's screwing around, or instead determine if there's an actual terrorist. In the later case, though, identifying the actual threat would give the crew a chance to act to stop it. In the case of a real suicide bomber, an attempt at an emergency landing essentially guarantees the bomb will be set off. So much for your "safety-first" policy.

I honestly don't see what alternative course you're offering except "Do nothing and see what happens."

Your lack of foresight is your problem. I really don't know why you're trying to participate in discussions on a security blog if you can't work out all sorts of alternative threats and counteractions.

I don't advocate for everything the TSA does so you can stop right there with your strawmen theater.

Where did I say you supported everything the TSA does? The only straw men here are yours.

If you want to be a hero of personal privacy, you can walk.

What the hell does any of this have to do with personal privacy? It's about how to rationally assess threats in the real world. In this case it's on a plane, but it could just as easily be walking down the street. Like I asked earlier, are you going to shoot everyone you walk past with their hand in their pockets just because they might be going for a weapon? Because "safety"!?!

Nope, you're just nuts/trolling.

No, clearly it's you who is here with a non-rational agenda. You're aiding the climate of terror in the world. Why is that?

Bottom line : YOU DO NOT KNOW what the credible threat is or isn't. You err @ caution.

And this is how the terrorists are winning. One unthinking coward at a time.

OtterDecember 2, 2017 1:20 PM

One must ask, why are we chatting about "Needless Panic"?

Surely it is more useful to speculate, where do they find so many intellectually-challenged people, who appear to think they can confront authority theater with impunity?

T33nsyDecember 2, 2017 2:47 PM

@hmm:
Nope, you're just nuts/trolling.

I personally find your contributions to be disruptive. I think it would behove you to refrain from accusing others of trolling, while engaging in the practice yourself (trolling == deliberately disruptive posts to a list or thread).

We're quite used to trolling here; we know it when we see it. We don't (most of us) need it pointed out to us.

Hope that's OK with you.

justina colmenaDecember 2, 2017 4:51 PM

@hmm

So I guess terrorism isn't the real threat, it's wealthy gentlemen, their whores, and liquor?
Am I reading this right?

100% correct. Terror is not a threat. It is a human psychological reaction to a perceived threat. The mere fact that a "girl" feels scared, or terrified, or however she chooses to express it, does not make someone's wi-fi hotspot network name a threat.

"Bomb on board" is hey-brother-man-dude code for "Check out this gal with the large breasts!"

Sex offenses, money changing hands, stolen travel documents, women and girls forced into absurdly precipitous circumstances, men who report crimes being falsely charged with the very crimes they report, and all manner of such general corruption, yes, those are real threats.

Terrorism? Are thousands upon thousands of people dead? Or is a camera shoved into some sobbing girl's face, and she is recorded saying how "terrified" she feels, right on cue.

It's time for reality to intervene here. Neither television cameras nor the men who hold them are all that sympathetic to anyone's "feelings."

hmmDecember 2, 2017 6:54 PM

" I think it would behove you to refrain from accusing others of trolling "

The word is behoove, since you'd like to take a t33nsy little swing.

"I used my brain. It's a handy tool"

I'll just leave this here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
It's really fascinating how by thinking we are right, we can convince ourselves of it.

" Stop supporting terrorists like that, hmm. "

Accusing someone of supporting terrorism because you disagree with their interpretation of proper TSA policy is trolling, I think I called that out correctly. Thanks though.

Alerting the flight captain & re-screening the plane because of a "bomb" mention in any context is the policy.
I didn't invent it, I'm just agreeing that it's a sensible policy. Even "theater" sometimes is that.

You don't have to like it, you're free to complain to your heart's content. Go right ahead! :D
I'm a sympathetic ear - but if I 'hear' something that isn't right, I might mention it.
I do hope that's OK with you, but either way.

I'd be happy to evaluate your purported argument that supports zero reaction to a "bomb" threat relative to the policy of landing and re-screening the plane. Go ahead and give us that cost/benefit analysis that proves I'm being a foolish toady of that great Satan, the TSA, or supporting "terrorism" by suggesting this is a reasonable policy.

So far your contribution to this discussion has had nothing to do with the discussion.
Let's get back to that original topic if you're done venting at me.

rechercheDecember 2, 2017 7:23 PM

I recall a story from the late 80s, where a young guy,
being flippant in response to the security guard's
question of "Are you carrying a bomb onto this plane?",
said "Yes, I am."

He was immediately separated from the queue, and told
to wait in a holding area. The security personnel
escalated his response to people within the airline.

The verdict? "The pilot of this plane, who is
ultimately in charge of safety, has, at his absolute
discretion, decided that he does not want you to board
his flight."

The story I heard ended there... I don't know if any
charges were laid; the country involved had a fairly
relaxed security atmosphere at the time (it did not
service areas where terrorist incidents were likely).

-- recherche

tapdancing appendages not allowedDecember 2, 2017 9:06 PM


The FAA, pfft. Let the free market decide whether planes land safely!
So long as I'm not inconvenienced what's a few hundred lives at a time?

Terrorism is just another disruptive vertical actor, you know like Uber. Just ignore it.

Besides, we all know the flying in a metal tube at hundreds of miles an hour without inconvenience Amendment, it's our RIGHT to override the safety considerations of the pilot with our Row 25 seat F knowledge and understanding of what's important here, dammit.

What are we, mere passengers?


Epon E MouseDecember 3, 2017 2:48 AM

So when are we going to see the next aircraft carrier named the USS Terrified Of Everything or the USS Completely Daunted? Aren't there supposed to be laws?

I mean, over the other side of the Pond the Royal Navy has its HMS Prisoner Of War and HMS Quantitative Easing. They must've got the memo.

Impossibly StupidDecember 3, 2017 12:06 PM

@hmm

It's really fascinating how by thinking we are right, we can convince ourselves of it.

The irony of this is that it's only you who remains convinced that you're right. I have asked you many times to make a convincing argument that will get me to change my position, but you have been either unable or unwilling to support your own conclusions. My position remains that you cannot safely end a flight while you have an unsecured terrorist on board who has a weapon and intends to use it. Show me where I'm wrong.

Accusing someone of supporting terrorism because you disagree with their interpretation of proper TSA policy is trolling, I think I called that out correctly.

No, it's just me reaching a conclusion based on your actions of promoting a response to terrorism when there is no terrorism.

Alerting the flight captain & re-screening the plane because of a "bomb" mention in any context is the policy. I didn't invent it, I'm just agreeing that it's a sensible policy.

Yes, we see that. You're wrong. You're failing to see that. Follow that link you provided.

I'd be happy to evaluate your purported argument that supports zero reaction

Again with this "do nothing" straw man? I already listed actions that could be taken to better assess the situation. I already gave the likely way an attempt at an emergency landing would be handled if a real bomb is on a plane. Show some reading comprehension and address the arguments that have already been made instead of ignoring them in your response. That is the act of a troll.

Clive RobinsonDecember 3, 2017 12:24 PM

@ Epon E Mouse,

I mean, over the other side of the Pond the Royal Navy has its HMS Prisoner Of War and HMS Quantitative Easing. They must've got the memo.

I guess you have not been reading the news... The UK Royal Navy has six very high tech ships that just will not stop breaking down. Thus HMS Unreliable, HMS Unfit for Duty and even HMS Sinking by the Stern are the names the sailors and officers on board them are starting to call them.

The latest disaster is limping back to home port with "propeller problems" which some one has only half joking suggested means that it's dropped off...

Clive RobinsonDecember 3, 2017 1:22 PM

@ Impossibly Stupid, hmm,

My position remains that you cannot safely end a flight while you have an unsecured terrorist on board who has a weapon and intends to use it. Show me where I'm wrong.

Oh that's easy, but importantly first you have to know who they are and what weapon(s) they have and that you have a certain way to over come them before they use the weapon(s)...

But if the airline staff knew that then the terorist would not have been alowed to board in the first place...

The simple argument is that the terrorist has a "dead mans switch" in their shoe or in the sleave of their jacket etc which they activate when they have sat down. As long as they keep preasure on the switch their weapon(s) will not activate. Touch them or even make them nervous and then it's "Goodnight Vienna time"

But there are older arguments from last century when terrorists used "patsys" and put bombs in their lugage with barometric switches in so when the aircraft went above ~5000ft the bomb became armed and went off if it dropped below ~5000ft again. This will still work as airliens reduce even cabin preasure to around 8000ft equivalent for various reasons.

Which as "what goes up must come down" in the case of planes, only leaves the question of when and where to minimise potential deaths and collateral damage in it's various forms. The sensible option would be to divert the aircraft to a rural airport with only water or agricultural land on the descending flight path.

Likewise the sooner that is done the better, because in the past terrorists have other additions and you don't know if the weapon has a timer based fail safe (Lockerbie for instance)...

It is as they say a "no win situation" the only option is to minimize risk of collateral damage, anything else is in effect a second guessing movie plot scenario.

Talking of "Captin Underpants" and "Corporal hot foot" scenarios is actually fairly pointless because the amount of explosives they had on them would have not brought the aircraft they were on down. They were just the new generation of patsys you could call "useful idiots" they had been recruited then kept issolated whilst they were brainwashed into doing what they did. The purpose was not to make an aircraft drop off the radar, but for it to survive and land so that the survivors would spread the fear quickly and easily through the MSM and then have maximal terrorizing effect. There have been analyses done that certainly in the case of the shoe bomber, it's unlikely to have killed him with thr blast it would have created, he might however have bled out.

People will also raise the issue of body cavity bombs, again these sound good but in practice do little physical damage to anyone other than the bomber. It's the psychological effect the terrorists seniors are looking for, thus any old "usefull idiot" with a low IQ is what they are looking for to carry it out, and it realy does not matter if they survive or not. Just the same as the FBI used to look for when they were "creating terrorists".

You can imagine the first requirment on their candidate check list "Can they tie both shoe laces by themselves?", yes, then reject them as being too smart to be useful...

hmmDecember 3, 2017 1:39 PM

The truth is I don't care if you change your position or not.

The reasonable FAA regulation remains, and your feckless attacks on me for saying so don't matter a bit.

That's the reality we live in. Accept it or don't. :) I don't care which.

hmmDecember 3, 2017 1:41 PM

"No, it's just me reaching a conclusion based on your actions of promoting a response to terrorism when there is no terrorism."

You don't know it's not terrorism in realtime, nobody does. That's the point you keep failing to grasp.

A bomb threat is a bomb threat. They have actions they take when they see that. It's just SOP.

Don't like it? That's too bad. I guess you're limited to trains, buses, cars and ships, and walking.

Bring plenty of water, that's my advice. It's a long walk.

u38cgDecember 3, 2017 4:00 PM

> A wi-fi network name seems marginally plausible as a covert channel

The security issue here is not the non-existent threat; it is the risk that passengers decide to turn vigilante and summarily lynch some poor innocent brown-skinned chap. Which is the same reason they discourage joking about weaponry etc etc.

justina colmenaDecember 3, 2017 4:43 PM

@hmm

A bomb threat is a bomb threat.

Except when it's a rape threat or a kidnapping threat or a robbery threat. But sex crimes, identity theft, and prostitution are unheard of at the airport.

They have actions they take when they see that. It's just SOP.

Not so fast, mister. Stop stroking your beard, because you just lost it.

Assess the situation, and use what's left of your brain after you eye those pretty girls to figure out what the actual threat is before going off half-cocked like that.

hmmDecember 3, 2017 5:05 PM

"But sex crimes, identity theft, and prostitution are unheard of at the airport."

You can't easily mitigate those things with xray machines or pat downs, usually.
As bad as those are, they don't kill dozens to hundreds at a time. Bad comparison.
A single prostitute on a plane doesn't damage the entire industry. A bomb can.

"Except when it's a rape threat or a kidnapping threat or a robbery threat"

That's a lesser threat level but they can and do land planes for those also. Yep.
1-4 threat levels, the highest of which = attempting to access cockpit / bomb threats.

"Not so fast, mister." Oh yes, faster than that miss - Or you're fired!

https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC90-103.pdf
(There are better resources but #3 #5 and #6 should set you straight)

They're not in a position to evaluate, they are legally bound report it ASAP. That's the job + the law.
The captain decides and they have no reason to ignore any potential threat, really.

Nothing measures up to the potential of what could happen if they decide not to check it out.
Your inconvenience nonwithstanding.

John SmithDecember 3, 2017 7:12 PM

from Impossibly Stupid:

"..Like I asked earlier, are you going to shoot everyone you walk past with their hand in their pockets just because they might be going for a weapon? Because "safety"!?!..."

Some authoritarian followers - the worst of them - want to do just this.

The purpose of Security Theatre is control and discipline. Authoritarian followers are tormented by the idea that there are Others who don't like to obey automatically and who joke about it.

The Others who make jokes, who are not naturally obedient, must be punished. Little by little, they must be taught to obey without question or else suffer adverse consequences. Hence TSA.

hmmDecember 3, 2017 7:37 PM

But don't conflate TSA and FAA though, right? Or are floating seat cushions part of the grand conspiracy theater?

"Black boxes, what an appropriate name for those expensive hoax machines.."

In a Libertarian's airliner every passenger gets their own flight stick and each tiny change is applied instantly.

The restrooms are awful though.

Impossibly StupidDecember 3, 2017 9:43 PM

@Clive Robinson

It is as they say a "no win situation" the only option is to minimize risk of collateral damage

That's my point. There is no "safe" outcome, and no amount of lying and deflecting by hmm is going to change that.

@hmm

You don't know it's not terrorism in realtime, nobody does.

But I do, and I already said how I knew. Anybody who has a brain and is allowed to use it would know.

A bomb threat is a bomb threat.

And what you are failing to grasp are the lessons of 9/11. The aim is not to hijack anymore. Terrorism isn't about threatening anyone or demanding anything. It's about destructive action. There are essentially no legitimate bomb threats. It makes zero sense for an attacker to tip off the target.

They have actions they take when they see that. It's just SOP.

And they're wrong actions. Everyone with a brain can see that. So, if you say you're not supporting terrorism, what do you gain by trying to keep them overreacting to things that obviously aren't real dangers?

I guess you're limited to trains, buses, cars and ships, and walking.

And what about any of those modes of travel prevents a jerk from doing a copycat "threat"? Do you really expect everyone to notify the authorities any time a WiFi network name upsets them?

hmmDecember 3, 2017 11:55 PM

I guess we'll petition to have you appointed psychic terrorism czar.

As opposed to heading the FAA or anything non-psychic like that.

hmmDecember 3, 2017 11:57 PM

"And what about any of those modes of travel prevents a jerk from doing a copycat "threat"?"

They do bomb trains. They do investigate SSID's and drones and unattended baggage.

Yep. That's how it works. I'm really not understanding why this upsets you so much.

hmmDecember 4, 2017 12:04 AM

"Terrorism isn't about threatening anyone or demanding anything. It's about destructive action."


BERLIN — A suspicious package containing nails that led to a bomb scare at a Christmas market in Germany was part of a blackmailing plot against a delivery company, German authorities said Sunday.

Brandenburg state Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter told reporters the package was part of a scheme to extort millions of euros (dollars) from delivery company DHL.


Well I guess the interior minister is... just making it up, because you say so.

And you would know.

AnselmDecember 4, 2017 8:21 AM

Well I guess the interior minister is... just making it up, because you say so.

Blackmail ≠ terrorism. The point of blackmail is to extort money, the point of terrorism is to terrorise. We haven't had Al Quaeda or the Orlando shooter ask the government (or some company) for money in order to stop whatever it was they were doing.

T33nsyDecember 4, 2017 12:27 PM

@hmm

'behove': https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/behove

Attacking spelling is a troll-sign. You have done this here before. Anyway, for some reason, hardly anyone who comments here has good english orthography (apparently not even you).

Look, I have to call this out; like Bruce, I have found the comments on this blog to be disrupted more and more, over the last 2-3 years. So stop with the ad-hominems, kay?

hmmDecember 4, 2017 12:53 PM

"Blackmail ≠ terrorism."

I'm not equating the two concepts, but they are linked in this case.

You can actually use terrorism to accomplish blackmail, that's a fact.

The point was that the motive is unknown at the time in a 'threat' incident.

You react to unknown threats in a by-the-book way to cut off all possibilities.

If you see a potential threat and DO NOT react to mitigate, that's a huge fail.

hmmDecember 4, 2017 12:54 PM

Teensy if you can't manage a comment on the topic maybe take a nap or something, eh?

This isn't a dating forum and I'm not interested. Seriously run along now.

The word is behoove, if you want to be a pedant be correct as job 1.

hmmDecember 4, 2017 1:11 PM

"We haven't had Al Quaeda or the Orlando shooter ask the government (or some company) for money in order to stop whatever it was they were doing."

Somewhat off-topic, but Al Qaeda specifically (and a lot of terrorist groups also) are formed specifically to accomplish something or "get" some outcome. In the case of AQ it was getting western influence (including the bought government) out of Saudi Arabia. Terrorism is a means as they see it to their ends.

But from a security perspective in realtime, you don't think about Al Qaeda, you think about the imminent bomb threat or other item you're evaluating for which the motive may or may not be immediately clear. Once the immediate threat is clear then you dive into the forensic analysis and attribution. You can't realistically do that pre-event.

It doesn't 'really' matter if the bomb is for extortion or terrorism or both, that's an after-the-fact consideration compared to realtime response concern. It's helpful to know which it is, but they're not psychic (unlike some amazing contributors here) so they have to follow a procedure instead.

T33nsyDecember 4, 2017 4:43 PM

@hmm: "The word is behoove, if you want to be a pedant be correct as job 1."

You started with the pedantry, and I'm afraid you have exposed your ignorance. The OED says I'm right; do you have a better english dictionary than the OED?

Meanwhile, you ignore my substantial statement that you are deliberately trolling this blog, in order to disrupt discussion. Please stop complaining about other people's spelling, just because you can't demolish their arguments.

Clive RobinsonDecember 4, 2017 4:58 PM

@ hmm, T33nsy,

The word is behoove, if you want to be a pedant be correct as job 1.

Sorry but you are wrong.

The current "English english" word "behove" was loosely derived from the old "Middle Low German" word "behōven", via the old English "behōfian".

The "American English" version "behoove" realy is the "Johnny Come Lately" spelling, used as far as I'm aware only in the USA and possibly one or two previous dependencies. But not Canada or for that matter the other Five-Eyes and other English speaking WASP nations.

All of which you can find out fairly easily in a couple of minutes by simply pulling an OED off the shelf but not a Websters abridged. Oh and the OED spelling is the one that counts under jurisprudence, and technically the correct spelling is with the single 'o' in that field of endeavor even in the USA...

Whilst this blog's web site may be based in the USA, it's audience is international. Thus for many people who come here English is their second or third language. This causes lots of interesting issues with the use of 's' or 'z' in words amongst several other things such as incorrect usage of vowels (a sin of which I am guilty of even though English is my first language).

As many here know I live within the thousand odd square miles that London has become. Not a day goes by when I don't here a foreign accent on the streets if not a half dozen foreign languages. Which is why my viewpoint generally is I will where possible simply "work around" mangled words be they spoken or written, in part because what may or may not be mispronounciations or spelling mistakes to me may not be to others depending on where they were taught in the world. Likewise that English is not a language thay may be fluent in.

As our host has pointed out in the past this is not a blog for the art of writing, but the art of security in it's many forms. Which realy means as far as those who post are concerned "it's content over style" that matters. In order to enable the communication of ideas in a friendly and cooperative environment.

hmmDecember 4, 2017 6:58 PM

@ Clive

I knew, I knew you'd not let that pass unopposed and you didn't disappoint! :)
Your ongoing service to Queen and country is duly ascribed.

However!

International English isn't UK-based if ever it was. Intl. business language comes from
America now. Aha!
The UK simply doesn't have the cultural reach remaining, it's just another archipelago market for US goods.
After Brexit, perhaps not even that! (Oof, right in the Tories..)

DO feel free to google it - An American search engine, one might note!

be·hoove
bəˈho͞ov/

it is a duty or responsibility for someone to do something; it is incumbent on.
"it behooves any coach to study his predecessors"

Of course I'm aware that Britons (Brexitons?) spell things incorrectly, it's their bit of flair remaining.
It's how they market themselves as sophisticates to Americans, AFAIK.

However II!

The overarching POINT was that 'teensy tiny' little swings at me isn't our topic of conversation here.
We were talking about efficacy of plane security in the realtime of an unknown threat, until so interrupted.

"Which realy means as far as those who post are concerned "it's content over style" that matters."

-I sure couldn't agree with you more Clive.

Just when being lectured by a trollette off-topic I tend to try to turn pompous pedantry on itself as able.
*(I'm not an American supremacist, I just don't have time for bogans on my trouser-leg.)

If we have any left-over pretty unwed females, we'll send them your way to be made royals per the norm.

Cheers Clive - to your health. May God correct us all.


hmmDecember 4, 2017 7:08 PM

(a sin of which I am guilty of even though English is my first language)

Say three Mind-the-gaps and hum the Benny Hill theme. Go in peace to stiffen thy upper lip.

Peter A.December 5, 2017 7:40 AM

@hmm: Flight staff are trained to report [...] the word "bomb" in any context

O, really? What if I accidentally played the famous Tom Jones song aloud on my smartphone because the earphones plug just popped out? or absent-minded sung it along?


hmmDecember 5, 2017 3:12 PM

If you played it loud enough to notice, sure they could throw you off the plane for that. No problemo.

Hell, give a flight attendant a dirty look or untoward comment, THEY CAN throw you off JUST FOR THAT.
They have a lot of discretion. A countermanding force in that case is corporate blowback / loss of $.

I'm not defending every decision they come to, but if you make it obvious that you're being disruptive?
Prepare to spend a few hours in the airport security substation while they look at your phone.

Now, FAA regulations don't defend or exonerate airlines that make non-situations into legal dramas.
It's a specific set of things that you can do that WILL result in you being fined / jailed,
and a specific set of things airline employees must do in certain contingencies. That's all I defend.

"What if I just touch the emergency door handle, or make crazy eyes while reciting the Bible?"

Yes, you can find yourself in a world of avoidable hassles if you f*ck around near flying machines.
It's not a free-speech TPM zone. Try it and see!


HermanDecember 6, 2017 10:12 AM

On Free Speech / Freedom of the Press:

There are some good old reasons why Speaker's Corner is only a corner of Hyde Park.

There are actually a few similar places in the world. In Cape Town South Africa, the steps of a church on the Castle Parade Ground serves the same entertainment purpose.

The point being that: 'Your freedom stops where someone else's nose begins', which is generally enshrined in various Libel, Blasphemy and nowadays Bomb Threat laws, to name a few.

Everything has limits - Free Speech included. The alternative is anarchy.

MattDecember 6, 2017 11:41 AM

"That's the problem, not a reason why it's a good idea to land the plane. People are making decisions based on perceptions of job security rather than threat assessment."

Exactly what I've always said. Where I used to work, there was an off-the-shelf bomb threat card under my phone--if a bomb threat was called in, I was supposed to fill out the card and report it to the building super on duty--most likely resulting in a building evacuation and probably cancellation of the rest of the work day.

This would be extraordinarily expensive for my employer; the best option, if I got a bomb threat call, would be to hang up, which is exactly what I would do if I owned a business small enough to not have lawyers/board of directors on my case.

But my job. If I hung up on a bomb threat, and the threatener called my boss with "I called [name] and he hung up!", I could kiss my job goodbye.

Another one of my jobs was at a high school; there were two payphones in the lobby. I was told that, if either of those phones ever rang, to never answer it. Students would write down the payphones' numbers, then call bomb threats into them. If I answered a bomb threat call, I'd be required to act on it and probably evacuate/end the school day.

This--the mere fact that an unanswered bomb threat phone call doesn't get acted on--is proof that everyone knows bomb threats are always empty. But everyone acts on them because "it may be real" and "my job".

This also gave me a whole new idea. Traditionally, bomb threats are called in to avoid going to work, delay an exam, keep your ex from flying out on their honeymoon, etc. Could bomb threats also be used to get someone in trouble at work? Call someone's work phone and say "I'm sorry, I got the wrong number", then use the same prepaid cell phone to call their boss and say "There's a bomb in your building. I just called John Smith to report this bomb, but he hung up on me".

hmmDecember 6, 2017 3:21 PM

"if a bomb threat was called in, I was supposed to fill out the card and report it to the building super on duty--most likely resulting in a building evacuation and probably cancellation of the rest of the work day."

Well the fact that you never had to do that is kind of a clue, it's not a real common thing.
The productivity angle in your example is hardly affected at all, real world.

But if you don't even bother to report it how would anyone ever hope to catch the prankster, or worst case, what if it turned out to be a real threat and you ignored it? Bomb threats are not always empty.

Assuming so without looking is abdicating a safety responsibility whether or not the investigation yields actual explosives, as even in a false report they can find some issue/threat vector that was unknown beforehand. Just noting the timing of the report can be evidence of a particular individual's involvement. Why help them get away with it by not reporting it ASAP? What if ignoring it brings escalation?

I suppose if you got the same threat every week for a month or two, maybe then ignoring it would seem a more reasonable decision - but even in that case I think it's a mistake as you'd be better off getting the authorities involved up front to bring that situation to possible closure sooner. Use the opportunity as a fire drill, most organizations have to do those anyway. Hiring extra security, reviewing security footage, making sure people know what to do, none of these things are unreasonable efforts or particularly expensive for organizations of scale.

What's EXPENSIVE is when any actual incident occurs and someone handles it badly and you get sued.

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