Tuesday, November 04, 2014

ABC affiliate reporter Scott Thuman makes "short film" on security loopholes beyond the checkpoints, with items purchased in shops; more on electronics

Scott Thuman of WJLA-7 in Washington DC (and Arlington VA, Rosslyn) with his "I-Team" provides a brief report on the danger to airport security from items that can be bought in shops beyond security checkpoints.
It’s a stretch to call it a “short film”, but I thought the writeup would fit this blog.  It’s called “Bombs Beyond Security”.  WJLA has sponsored some forums recently called “Your Voice, Your Future” on its News Channel 8 subsidiary. It aired at 11 PM Monday night, Nov. 3, 2013 in the DC area.  

An engineering consultant and survivalist-outdoorsman in Greensboro, NC Evan Booth showed (without enough video detail to encourage copycats, fortunately) that small explosives could be made from common materials in gift shops, including dental floss and souvenirs built in the shape of skyscrapers like the Washington Monument.  Thuman also interviewed Rafi Sela, of Israeli airport security.

There was a lot of controversy over the TSA’s decision to require travelers to prove that they could power up cell phones when flying from certain airports.  There was controversy as to whether this would extend to laptop computers.  There is a NYTimes story by Ron Nixon and Michael S. Schmidt from July 2014 here. The TSA Blog entry here  has many unanswered comments which leave travelers unsure about many issues, such as stand alone hard drives.  Many of these measures are driven by threats from the Khorasan Group (wiki). 

A traveler could be left with the choice of abandoning a device or canceling a flight and paying penalties if the device fails, particularly if this requirement becomes common even domestically.  It’s a good idea to put in operating system updates and changes at least several days before air travel, because devices are more likely to fail suddenly right after an update, or when brand new (or if worn out). 

I must say that I enjoy the time before boarding.  I usually have a travel laptop and iPad for hotspot (although most airports now have WiFi), get a coffee and snack, and sit and write a blog post or two before boarding.