Essays Tagged "Sydney Morning Herald"
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People Understand Risks—But Do Security Staff Understand People?
Natural human risk intuition deserves respect -- even when it doesn't help the security team
This essay also appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age.
People have a natural intuition about risk, and in many ways it’s very good. It fails at times due to a variety of cognitive biases, but for normal risks that people regularly encounter, it works surprisingly well: often better than we give it credit for.
This struck me as I listened to yet another conference presenter complaining about security awareness training. He was talking about the difficulty of getting employees at his company to actually follow his security policies: encrypting data on memory sticks, not sharing passwords, not logging in from untrusted wireless networks. “We have to make people understand the risks,” he said…
Terrorists May Use Google Earth, But Fear Is No Reason to Ban It
This essay also appeared in The Hindu, Brisbane Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald.
It regularly comes as a surprise to people that our own infrastructure can be used against us. And in the wake of terrorist attacks or plots, there are fear-induced calls to ban, disrupt or control that infrastructure. According to officials investigating the Mumbai attacks, the terrorists used images from Google Earth to help learn their way around. This isn’t the first time Google Earth has been charged with helping terrorists: in 2007, Google Earth images of British military bases were found in the homes of …
Airplane Security and Metal Knives
This essay also appeared in The Age.
Two weeks ago, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone caused a stir by ridiculing airplane security in a public speech. She derided much of post-9/11 airline security, especially the use of plastic knives instead of metal ones, and said “a lot of what we do is to make people feel better as opposed to actually achieve an outcome.”
As a foreigner, I know very little about Australian politics. I don’t know anything about Senator Vanstone, her politics, her policies, or her party. I have no idea what she stands for. But as a security technologist, I agree 100% with her comments. Most airplane security is what I call “security theater”: ineffective measures designed to make people feel better about flying…
The Security of Checks and Balances
Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the US presidential election centers around the relative security posturings of President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, with each side loudly proclaiming that his opponent will do irrevocable harm to national security.
Terrorism is a serious issue facing our nation in the early 21st century, and the contrasting views of these candidates is important. But this debate obscures another security risk, one much more central to the US: the increasing centralisation of American political power in the hands of the executive branch of the government…
If you’re watching the Olympic games on television, you’ve already seen the unprecedented security surrounding the 2004 Games. You’re seen shots of guards and soldiers, and gunboats and frogmen patrolling the harbors.
But there’s a lot more security behind the scenes. Olympic press materials state that there is a system of 1250 infrared and high-resolution surveillance cameras mounted on concrete poles. Additional surveillance data is collected from sensors on 12 patrol boats, 4000 vehicles, 9 helicopters, four mobile command centres, and a blimp…
BOB on Board
Last Tuesday’s bomb scare contains valuable security lessons, both good and bad, about how to achieve security in these dangerous times.
Ninety minutes after taking off from Sydney Airport, a flight attendant on a United Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles found an airsickness bag—presumably unused—in a lavatory with the letters “BOB” written on it.
The flight attendant decided that the letters stood for “Bomb On Board” and immediately alerted the captain, who decided the risk was serious enough to turn the plane around and land back in Sydney…
Want to help fight terrorism? Want to be able to stop and detain suspicious characters? Or do you just want to ride your horse on ten miles of trails normally closed to the public? Then you might want to join the George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) Airport Rangers program. That’s right. Just fill out a form and undergo a background check, and you too can become a front-line fighter as Houston’s airport tries to keep the US of A safe and secure. No experience necessary. You don’t even have to be a US citizen.
No; it’s not a joke. The Airport Rangers program is intended to promote both security and community participation, according to the official description. It’s a volunteer mounted patrol that rides horses along the pristine wooded trails that form the perimeter of the 11,000-acre airport…
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.