Security Misnomers

In this article I’m not going to talk about IT security, instead I’m going to talk about the fallacies of security in our everyday lives in the real world.

Scenario 1 – Airport Security

Airport what? Security? Lets start by talking about sharp objects and the like. You are not allowed to take knives or walking sticks onto the plane, seems quite reasonable until it gets taken to the extreme. We’re not allowed to take a pair of nail scissors or a 5cm long Swiss Army keyring penknife onto a plane. Just where do we draw the line? You can kill someone just as easily with a pencil as you could with either of these two items. Will we have to give our shoe laces in next to avoid strangling someone?

Ok lets talk about all the bottles of exploding water. Lets assume this water is explosive, what do they make us do with it? We put all our bottles into one enormous recepticle, which if it really were filled with explosive could pretty much destroy the entire airport. Seems more like a scam to increase drinks sales airside in the airport but lets assume it really is all about security this brings me on to the second scenario.

Scenario 2 – Security Controls

Since all the recent spates of terrorist attacks, if you go to a concert or large scale event, you are told to arrive earlier so that you can go through all the security checks. 

So you arrive on site and are put in a big queue waiting for the security people to start letting people through. The barriers and cordons are all in place and the queue is snaking back and forth. So what is wrong with this picture? Well basically the security checks are said to be there to make sure that when everyone is grouped together there isn’t someone in the middle with a bomb or a weapon, right? 

So why are all these people being grouped together before the controlls where Mr Tick Boom quite hapily stand in line. The problem has simply been moved outside of the venue where it isn’t the organizers resposibility.

Scenario 3 – Digital Identification

You may or may not be against the use of ID cards or passports of any kind but lets assume that you are prepared to use one. Once upon a time we had our passport which contained a series of forgery protection systems, which served the official in confirming its validity. It was however slightly slower than the newer digital passports but could only be read by the bearer.

The problem with digital passports is that not all of them contain shielding, so as you walk through the airport someone could hyperthetically steal your identity as you pass by and you would have no idea. The passport is a passive near field device, so if the reader is powerful enough and also directional it could be used to target someone a couple of meters away.

Summary

So as much as this is all done in the name of security, the reality is that the real scope may only be to make you feel more secure or to transfer resposibility for any eventual incident to some other authority. However in many cases you may actually be equally at risk or in the case of your data security more at risk due to recent measures.

I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg here and may come back to thos topic in another post.

With regard to scenario 3 there are certain actions you can take to at least reduce the risk of data theft. Check if passports for the issuing country and date contained shielding and in the event that they did not purchase a cover that contains shielding, there are a number of them available now.

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