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Researcher Evan Booth: How To Weaponize Tax-Free Airport Goods

timothy posted about a year ago | from the tech-crew-at-the-security-theater dept.

Security 288

New submitter MickeyF71 writes "At the Hack in the Box security conference security expert Evan Booth shares the results of his two year research on the effectiveness of airport security. He demonstrates how easy it is to produce lethal weapons from goods easily bought from the tax-free section at most airports." Google's translation of the Dutch in that link isn't ideal. For those who prefer English to Dutch, Booth's presentation at CarolinaCon 2013 (YouTube video) may be a better bet.

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288 comments

First Post (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43384011)

I'll be reading TFA while standing in the TSA security line at the airport.

Re:First Post (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a year ago | (#43384037)

Hope you can read Dutch. Either way, the TSA isn't going to notice/care

Re:First Post (5, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#43384933)

If the TSA guys could read they'd probably give you an hard time.

They needed research for this? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384045)

Go into any duty free shop and make a bee line to the liquor section. There's something wonderfully flammable stuff there.

Although, for some of those Scotches, if a terrorist were to use them, you'd see Fark headlines like: "The Horror! 30 year old Scotch murdered in terrorist act! A plane and people died too."

Re:They needed research for this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384105)

That's what I was thinking. Some vodka, a lighter, a handkerchief...

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about a year ago | (#43384129)

That would certainly be the Fark headline.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384205)

That lets you make a fire, not a weapon. If you're thinking of some kind of aerosol-spray-pump flame-thrower, then .. ok, everybody, go out into your back yard right now and play with it. I think you'll be disappointed. In the time you can spray me with these rather low-heat flames, I can beat the living shit out of you with my hands, and I'm hardly a "tough guy." And you will drop your "weapon" while I'm beating the crap out of you. So this is all down to a boxing match anyway.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384257)

And you will drop your "weapon" while I'm beating the crap out of you.

You've watched too many action movies.

When someone splashes alcohol in your face and lights it, the very last
thing you will be thinking about is beating them up. You WILL be thinking
about you face being on fire.

Re:They needed research for this? (5, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43384401)

You've watched too many action movies.

When someone splashes alcohol in your face and lights it, the very last
thing you will be thinking about is beating them up. You WILL be thinking
about you face being on fire.

I think it's you that's watched too many movies--booze does not burn all that well. While splashing alcohol in 1 person's face and lighting it might, possibly, incapacitate that person, it is not any way to incapacitate the entire flight crew and all the other passengers. The end result would be an attacker struggling to not suffocate, because it is actually very hard to breathe when hog-tied, and especially with one or more knees in your back.

Oh, by the way--you do realize there's fire extinguishers on board, and the flight attendants know where they are and how to use them? Right? So what do you think they're going to do with the fire extinguisher after they empty it? ;-)

Re:They needed research for this? (2)

kryps (321347) | about a year ago | (#43384517)

I think it's you that's watched too many movies--booze does not burn all that well. While splashing alcohol in 1 person's face and lighting it might, possibly, incapacitate that person, it is not any way to incapacitate the entire flight crew and all the other passengers. The end result would be an attacker struggling to not suffocate, because it is actually very hard to breathe when hog-tied, and especially with one or more knees in your back.

You can not "incapacitate the entire flight crew and all the other passengers" with knives either. But planes have been hijacked with knives before.

Re:They needed research for this? (5, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | about a year ago | (#43384577)

But planes have been hijacked with knives before 9/12/2001.

Fixed that for you.

Re:They needed research for this? (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#43384837)

But planes have been hijacked with knives before 9/12/2001.

Fixed that for you.

Aye. That fact pretty much makes the whole TSA utterly pointless. No one is going to even try hijacking a plane, not anymore. Blowing it up, maybe, but not hijacking. And there are vastly easier targets if you just want to kill a few people with explosives (the queue for the security checkpoint, for example).

Re:They needed research for this? (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43384601)

And the keyword is "before". As we all know, 9/11 changed everything.

Before, a hijacking meant an unplanned trip to Cuba or an inconvenient delay on the tarmac while the hijacker negotiates for ransom money. (And the hijacking situation was probably more convenient than some flight delays [go.com] ) . So sit back, relax, and do what they tell you.

Re:They needed research for this? (3, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year ago | (#43384649)

This. 9/11 changed the perception of hijackings. And hell, during 9/11 one plane's passengers did resist successfully.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about a year ago | (#43384773)

And hell, during 9/11 one plane's passengers did resist successfully.

Are you referring to Flight 93? The one that crashed into the ground? If that's your definition of success I'm taking the train.

Re:They needed research for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384679)

But planes have been hijacked with knives before.

That is true. It was also back in the day when hijackers wanted to be flown somewhere ("take us to Cuba" or whatever). Now that people are aware that hijackers likely plan to use the plane as a weapon - killing all aboard in the process - the assumption (and assumption it is) is that people will no longer be cowed by weapons that cannot incapacitate large numbers of people. So a knife? Big whoop. A Malatov Cocktail? Please.

Re:They needed research for this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384777)

Yes - and no. It depends on levels of adrenaline, testosterone, somewhat on rational decisions, training, and more. The pain, and the surprise, in the situation you describe will stop almost everyone, almost 100% of the time. Pure shock almost always stops everyone.

But - there are exceptions. Depending on how things developed into a struggle to the death, the guy being sprayed with burning alcohol may well understand that he is dead whether he fights or not. Some really hard core sumbitches will struggle to make their deaths mutually painful, for him and his attacker.

Call me a numbskull, or whatever. I've been injured a couple of times in my life. (who's counting, anyway?) It takes time for the pain to soak in sometimes. Not always - it depends on how I was injured. But, it can take literally minutes for the shock to hit home. Until the shock hits, you can be fully functional.

After the fact, shock may have reduced me to a helpless idiot, but as long as something remained possible and necessary, I continued to act for my own self preservation.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43384881)

I can second this, its not easy to bring down some people. Some people have a blind rage and once you injure them, your response is not shock. Unless that injury is massive and going to kill you in seconds anyway.

Re: They needed research for this? (1)

stobesel (641386) | about a year ago | (#43384301)

Molotov cocktail with vodka?

Re: They needed research for this? (4, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | about a year ago | (#43384619)

Molotov cocktail with vodka?

It won't work. Vodka -- and in fact most liquors -- are mostly water. 80-proof beverages are only 40% alcohol, and it needs to be at least 50% (100 proof) alcohol* to burn (strong stuff like 151-proof rum is sold with a flame arrestor built into the top of the bottle.)

(*If the beverage is warmed you can coax a flame off of the alcohol evaporating out of the liquid -- this is how you ignite brandy; it has to be warmed first. But as soon as you splash it or try to spray it, it will cool below the ignition point.)

If the bottle is glass it would make a more dangerous weapon than the liquid inside it.

Re: They needed research for this? (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#43384653)

The bottle the stuff comes in makes a pretty good weapon. Also, a bit of flaming booze thrown around a plane would cause quite a but of panic even if it didn't hurt anyone much. Certainly a few glass bottles of alcohol are more dangerous than my tube of toothpaste or that old lady's orange juice.

Re:They needed research for this? (1, Funny)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#43384319)

Indeed. I have been thinking this since 9/11. The TSA was an obvious scan right from the beginning,

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43384463)

The TSA was an obvious scan...

Oh brother! That was horrible...

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43384597)

Go into any duty free shop and make a bee line to the liquor section. There's something wonderfully flammable stuff there.

Booze is actually very difficult to light, you really have to heat it up before you can light it. Go try it if you don't believe me...

Hint: Buy a travel steam iron in the shop and head for the baby changing room to heat your bottle vodka for ten minutes before boarding.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43384911)

It depends on the booze also. Some booze is pretty flammable, but honestly I doubt they sell it in large quantities in an airport, maybe at a semi decent bar if your lucky to find a shot of it. But some booze will light if sprayed from your mouth on a flame, the flame is usually produced by cloth on a stick soaked in said booze already ignited at the appropriate temperatures for ignition. Ive seen it in person.

It wouldn't make an effective weapon though, theres better options. Maybe moderately useful as a distraction prior to a real practiced unarmed blow.

Re:They needed research for this? (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43384865)

Stay back! I have a bottle of booze, and I know how to use it.

WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject of w (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384063)

eapons in airport stores? Tax or no tax, it's a potential problem.

Re: WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384083)

You've never been in an airport have you?

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#43384093)

Because for instance, the amount of liquids per bottle you can bring from a tax free shop at the airport through security is not limited to 100 ml.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43384151)

Indeed.

I once had a transparent bottle with one finger of liquid left in it (clearly visible) confiscated because the bottle was too big. Even though bigger bottles were available in the shop behind the scanner (also clearly visible).

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384325)

Sigh, you do realize that those bottles behind the screen are screened, right? And that they don't have the resources to test every bottle that comes through the security check point for everything they're worried about.

Of all the things that TSA does, this is one of the few that actually has any validity. If anything they should be far more strict about it.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (4, Informative)

AikonMGB (1013995) | about a year ago | (#43384403)

You missed the point: you can bring in large empty bottles, or small bottles filled with liquid, but not large bottles with a small amount of liquid. The regulations are arbitrary and near-useless.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (1)

ark1 (873448) | about a year ago | (#43384631)

Indeed, you could have 1 large empty bottle + 2 small bottles as if it was impossible to fill the large bottle with the small one once you cross the checkpoint. But we know this is done to give an impression of security and not really provide much security.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384661)

Interesting. Those large polycarbonate bottles can hold well over 100 psi. Pump a two litre one up to max with acetylene, and it would still look empty. Unscrew the top and light a match. Boom.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43384135)

The TSA recently changed policies to allow pocket knives, nail clippers, hockey sticks, and box cutters back on planes. Box cutters, you'll remember, were used on 9/11/2001. The reality is, many prohibited items pass through security on a daily basis. You've heard stories about people the TSA failing their own security checks (fake bombs, guns, etc). You probably haven't heard any stories about the TSA actually stopping a terrorist. This is not because they're too modest to tell anyone.

All is not lost, since cockpit doors are still locked during the flight and passengers know a plane hijacking no longer means "free trip to cuba" but "you will die" which changes the dynamic (c.f United Airlines flight 93).

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384575)

Yes, and the last time a 9/11 style attack was possible was 9/11/2001. If a terrorist is going to stop passengers from fighting back, he will need a couple of guns, or a big bomb strapped to his chest. Anything else, and they will rip his arms and legs off after the first attempts of an attack.

Re:WTH does tax-free have to do with the subject o (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384737)

Yes, correct. And people on slashdot continue to post this on every airplane-related story, and continue to mod these posts insightful, and continue to agree with them.

Meanwhile, the TSA continues to get more funding, continues to grow in power, and continues to perpetuate its injusticies against innocent people both inside of and outside of [wikipedia.org] airports.

Pointing out how wrong and wasteful they are, to an audience of geeks, accomplishes nothing.

A true geek! (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | about a year ago | (#43384097)

Using whatever is at hand, in MacGyv^H^H^H^H Mythbuster style, and make stuff that goes boom! (among other things)

I salute thee, mr. Booth!

All I could tell from the link (2)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43384103)

Is that Dutch looks like german, in which everything seems angry. The web page seemed very very angry about my lack of cookies. I never knew a web page could look so angry.

As far as the article, this is not surprising given that security theater dominates our security policy. Look at school shootings. Evidently from what I have read, professors do not have the ability to lock many university classrooms, so they have to barricade of sacrifice themselves. I read this week that the police are now recommending that we take defensive action when someone tries to shoot us. What were school doing before, opening all the doors and lining the kids in the hallways to be executing? At school the policy is to lock doors, hide, and stay away from windows when a attack is announced. Which is to be done before the administration sacrifices themselves. Good defensive positions saves lives.

Of course the answer is always more guns, which is really going to some good when a truck full of claymores and fertilizer is driven into a school courtyard, or when some explodes their group 1 element on the plane.

Re:All I could tell from the link (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43384213)

Evidently from what I have read, professors do not have the ability to lock many university classrooms, so they have to barricade of sacrifice themselves.

This is being changed after the Virginia Tech shootings. Where faculty was unable to lock classroom doors, the shooter was able to enter. Where students were taken to lockable offices, they survived. Classroom door locks are now being added to many schools.

I don't know why they were ever removed. Back in my day, classrooms not in use were locked as a matter of policy (when no staff was present). Otherwise, students could enter and utilize them for 'unsanctioned' activities. I have many interesting stories from my high scool music department practice rooms.

Re:All I could tell from the link (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384611)

Evidently from what I have read, professors do not have the ability to lock many university classrooms, so they have to barricade of sacrifice themselves.

This is being changed after the Virginia Tech shootings. Where faculty was unable to lock classroom doors, the shooter was able to enter. Where students were taken to lockable offices, they survived. Classroom door locks are now being added to many schools.

I don't know why they were ever removed. Back in my day, classrooms not in use were locked as a matter of policy (when no staff was present). Otherwise, students could enter and utilize them for 'unsanctioned' activities. I have many interesting stories from my high scool music department practice rooms.

I think the main historical reason for locks on classroom doors was to prevent vandalism and keep students from having sex in the classroom at night.

Re:All I could tell from the link (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#43384675)

I don't know why they were ever removed. Back in my day, classrooms not in use were locked as a matter of policy (when no staff was present). Otherwise, students could enter and utilize them for 'unsanctioned' activities. I have many interesting stories from my high scool music department practice rooms.

I had a private smoking lounge in the maintenance space above ours. (Wonder if anyone ever found the bong I think I left up there.) I was in practically every musical group the school had, and so received a key that just so happened to open *that* lock, too, my sophomore year... :)

Nobody ever guessed how I managed never to get busted in the restrooms or trying to sneak out to the far parking lot. Since I wasn't supposed to tell any of the other students that I had what turned out to be a master key to every room and office in the whole music wing... I of course abided by the conditions under which I'd been given the key, and didn't tell a soul!

Re:All I could tell from the link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384665)

The Dutch are probably the least angry people on the planet lol.

Re:All I could tell from the link (1)

CdBee (742846) | about a year ago | (#43384691)

unless you include the Afrikaner Dutch, in which case they may be one of the most angry races alive

Over thinking it (4, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43384159)

That guy is over thinking it. A wine bottle and a roll of duct tape can be used to make a good knife - and on international flights they serve wine in glass bottles. Credit cards can have their edges honed to the point of being as sharp as box cutters.

About the only thing worthwhile is using a remote controlled toy to trigger something.

Re:Over thinking it (2, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43384291)

My grandfather sharpened the edges of coins, so they could put them between their fingers when fighting.
Bar fights are done without the duct tape. Just use any glass or bottle and break the end while holding it.

Look at the average documentary about prisons and you will know that anything can be made into a weapon.

And if you are a danger with a nail clipper, you are a danger without it.

Re:Over thinking it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384879)

My grandfather sharpened the edges of coins, so they could put them between their fingers when fighting.

And it impressed your grandmother enough that she didn't smash that bottle of rum on his head, and the rest was history.

Someday children will have stories about how their parents met while suing each other for sneezing inappropriately. Times are changing.

Re:Over thinking it (3, Insightful)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year ago | (#43384893)

Bar fights are done without the duct tape. Just use any glass or bottle and break the end while holding it.

That's a good way to end up with a handful of blood and broken glass. It's not easy to break the end off of a bottle without breaking the whole bottle. Amateur bottle fighters are little more than business for surgeons. There's a very good reason for the duct tape.

Re:Over thinking it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384607)

Not to mention, a terrorist could dissect another passenger and use their teeth and large bones as weapons! On a long flight, they could render a passenger's body fat into a viscous fire accelerant!

We had better block the presence of body fat, teeth, and large bones at the security gate too... it's the only way to ensure safe and convenient air travel for the public.

blue barn graphics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384169)

Anyone can tell me the method to reduce the taxes?

Re:blue barn graphics (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#43384723)

Gift the money to the gov't.

Ruining it for everyone (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | about a year ago | (#43384183)

Who wants to bet that the ultimate outcome of this talk becoming known to the public at large will be to close duty-free stores at international airports? Frankly, while I agree that airport security as it exists is basically theater which provides little-to-no meaningful increase in actual safety, I sort of feel like pointing out what you can do with items you're allowed to purchase on the "secure side of the fence" as it were, is akin to the people who point out that more murders are perpetrated with hand guns than assault rifles: they think they're making a logical point, but all they're doing is creating a causus belli for their opponents to expand their reach to target handguns, too -- NOT providing a rational argument for passing over banning assault weapons.

On the other hand, as a security industry professional, I'm naturally inclined to find things like this kind of cool. But seriously, I don't think anything good will come from this from a policy standpoint.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (5, Interesting)

Imagix (695350) | about a year ago | (#43384225)

True story: Passing security, my wife had her nail clippers confiscated. As soon as we cleared security, we walked into one of the shops and bought another pair of nail clippers. What was the point of seizing them at security? Equally true story: we bought water in the security area in our originating airport. Transferred planes in London, and they seized the water. BTW: do they somehow scan all of the merchandise that was brought into the secured area, like the bottled water that you can't bring across security?

Re:Ruining it for everyone (5, Funny)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about a year ago | (#43384255)

The replacement clippers you bought in the shop were made of approved inert metal. The ones you tried to smuggle on the aircraft could well have been made of plutonium. You and a few of your terrorist buddies put your plutonium nail clippers together and... BOOM! So you see, the policy was effective. Now please report to Guantanamo Bay.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384465)

Plutonium nailclippers? We are not defending against those because we know islamic suicide terrorists are not gay: they want to get their harem of virgins in heaven.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about a year ago | (#43384621)

Plutonium nailclippers? We are not defending against those because we know islamic suicide terrorists are not gay: they want to get their harem of virgins in heaven.

Just to be clear - is this AC suggesting that people who trim their nails are gay?

Re:Ruining it for everyone (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384695)

Well, women do tend to grow longer finger nails, and more often than not love the cock.
Men who keep closely trimmed nails tend to not want any additional cock.

So if anything, I would have to conclude that NOT cutting your fingernails in a sign you want the cock, not the other way around as the GP suggests.

Perhaps he is trying to redirect some strange and confusing feelings :P
Or perhaps homophobes will be homophobes despite that annoying 'reality' thing, as not only would any signs of being gay just not matter, but being gay itself also just does not matter.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

donscarletti (569232) | about a year ago | (#43384595)

Plutonium is a strange metal. It has 6 allotropes and is denser when melted than when solid, it is brittle and doesn't conduct heat or electricity. You take this horrid, unworkable metal that an experienced machinist or blacksmith would have trouble making a simple screwdriver or chisel out of and have to make a perfect, hollow, evacuated sphere out of it, surround it with precision trinitrotoluene shaped charges with multiple detonation points and then boom.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about a year ago | (#43384759)

You know too much about this plutonium. Report to Guantanamo Bay.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43384899)

No, you don't evacuate it. You fill the sphere with hydrogen. That will give you much more bang for your buck.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43384889)

That would be the heaviest nail clippers ever.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (3, Informative)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year ago | (#43384441)

What was the point of seizing them at security?

Aside from the obvious security theater, they also sell [cnn.com] the items [wsj.com] .

Re:Ruining it for everyone (2)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#43384711)

Good deals, too. That's where I get all of my discount used nail clippers!

Re:Ruining it for everyone (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43384449)

What was the point of seizing them at security?

To make you buy from the duty free store. The stores were losing money, and needed an influx of forced shoppers so that the airports could increase rent fees. I'll bet most of the confiscation rules were suggested by airports and not airlines or security professionals.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (1)

Staredown (165259) | about a year ago | (#43384801)

True story: Passing security, my wife had her nail clippers confiscated. As soon as we cleared security, we walked into one of the shops and bought another pair of nail clippers. What was the point of seizing them at security?

I think the question answers itself.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43384813)

BTW: do they somehow scan all of the merchandise that was brought into the secured area, like the bottled water that you can't bring across security?

No! That's the best part. As I am forced to throw away my water-bottle, I see a random worker bring in a palette of water bottles and go in without so much as a scan (they just open the door).

I am almost certain the airport vendors lobbied for that particular rule. Water/soda prices have almost doubled in the last few years.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384227)

Won't happen. Those shops provide a large amount of income to the airports..

Re:Ruining it for everyone (4, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | about a year ago | (#43384271)

That won't happen, because ultimately airports are only profitable as they are run as giant shops. Antiquated rules on the requirements for how long people need to be there before the flight are maintained to ensure there is a large number of trapped people sitting about who want to buy food/drink and who get bored or are addicted anyway to buying things they don't really need in shops.

Ultimately our security means little compared to the ability of the shops to sell "things" - hence the fact that we can still buy such things in the departures lounge even though it is clearly a security risk. The money they make (and thus the rent the pay to the airport) matters more than absolute security. Indeed some of the shops were no doubt delighted when the 100 ml rule came in, as now they can sell us elementary things like a bottle of water that we are not allowed to take through security.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384393)

Not really, you don't have to show up that early, except for international flights, they recommend that you show up that early because many people suck at time management. Also, security sometimes takes longer than expected. You can show up pretty much last minute and get on the plane, you just have to hope that you don't get unlucky with the traffic or any of that.

Uhm, no. (4, Informative)

raehl (609729) | about a year ago | (#43384533)

Antiquated rules on the requirements for how long people need to be there before the flight are maintained to ensure there is a large number of trapped people sitting about who want to buy food/drink and who get bored or are addicted anyway to buying things they don't really need in shops.

There are three sets of rules about when you need to be at the airport:

- Check-in time: Usually 30 minutes. This cutoff is to both give you time to get through security and the airline time to put other people in your seat if you don't show. But, since you can check in online anytime within 24 hours of your flight, this doesn't really put any requirement on you as to when you have to be at the airport.
- Back Check Time: Usually the same as the check-in time, and usually 30 minutes, although at some airports it's more. This is to make sure that the airline has time to get your bag to the plane and loaded on it. 30 minutes is pretty reasonable here (and the airports where it's longer, like Las Vegas, there's a reason.)
- At The Gate time: 15 or 30 minutes prior to departure, depending on whether you're doing domestic or international departure. As a practical matter though, this is really "before they are done boarding the plane". If it's 10 minutes to departure and they've still got a line of people getting on the plane, they won't know you're not there. But if it's 25 minutes before departure on an international flight and you're not on the plane and they are done boarding, they're going to pull your bags from the plane.

Why 30 for international but only 15 for domestic? Because the airlines are not required to fly your bags on the same plane as you domestically, but they are required to do so internationally, so they need the extra 15 minutes to get bags off the plane.

So, yes, there are rules about when you have to be at the airport and at the gate. But they have nothing to do with getting people to shop.

Re:Ruining it for everyone (2)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about a year ago | (#43384461)

Although I can imagine certain items being banned or screened more careful, I'd suspect that the lobbying of airports / airlines will protect the duty free shops from significant changes. Similarly, I've always suspected that the restrictions on liquids would have been lifted quickly if they were a financial pain (rather than a financial benefit) to the airports / airlines / shops.

Just my opinion, though, it's not like there's (as far as I'm aware!) particularly good insight available into how and what the interested parties communicate.

So what.. (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43384209)

in the hands of an expert, a toothpick can be a weapon.. sheesh..

Re:So what.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384609)

Do they even allow Chuck Norris into airports, never mind on a plane?

Why work so hard? (3, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | about a year ago | (#43384221)

While cute, this is really overthinking the problem.

If you want to kill lots of people in an aviation related way, send a suicide bomber to the security checkpoint at Thanksgiving.

If you want to get weapons onto the plane, infiltrate someone into the cleaning staff or maybe the caterers. There are lots of people and vehicles who enter the airport without being rigorously searched. Have them leave a weapon for you in the airplane's bathroom or taped under your seat.

Re:Why work so hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384655)

If I were to do some spectacular air terror act I would use a good rifle from a suitable location on ground close to the landing strip.

Re:Why work so hard? (1)

jovius (974690) | about a year ago | (#43384799)

True. In the end the security checkpoint will be built in the door frame of your home.

Rubbish weapons (4, Insightful)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#43384249)

The weapons in the photos look scary, but I bet they'd be really rubbish in real life. For example, the club is made from a rolled up magazine and some Liberty statuettes. It is small, not very heavy, not very sharp, and would probably fall apart if it was used.

Really any of these weapons is insignificant compared to what an fit but unarmed human can do. And that's why aeroplanes are safe these days: any hijacker will have to take on a hundred or more strong and highly motivated passengers.

Re:Rubbish weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384323)

Rolled up magazine (e.g. Delta Skymiles catalog) makes for a VERY effective club. Each individual page adds a reinforcing layer. A good magazine that's between an eighth and a quarter inch thick is almost equivalent to a metal rod.

Re:Rubbish weapons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384327)

Yet it can smash a coconut in multiple pieces in one hit according to the article. He did 2 years of research so it would be rather rubbish if he came up with a armory of weapons that fall apart on first use.

Re:Rubbish weapons (4, Insightful)

Attila the Bun (952109) | about a year ago | (#43384785)

Yet it can smash a coconut in multiple pieces in one hit according to the article. He did 2 years of research so it would be rather rubbish if he came up with a armory of weapons that fall apart on first use.

Sounds impressive doesn't it. But if you tried you could easily smash a coconut with your bare hands. However it would be very different if the coconut had arms and legs and was defending itself. And if there were a hundred of them, you would soon be overwhelmed.

If your goal is to injure one random person on a plane then nothing and nobody can prevent you. Almost anything will serve as a weapon, and if you are reasonably strong you don't even need a weapon. But that's a preposterous idea, because the remaining passengers will flatten you and you will spend the rest of your life in jail.

If your goal is to take over a plane then a rolled-up magazine laced to a handful of trinkets will not help.

Re:Rubbish weapons (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43384363)

The weapons in the photos look scary, but I bet they'd be really rubbish in real life. For example, the club is made from a rolled up magazine and some Liberty statuettes. It is small, not very heavy, not very sharp, and would probably fall apart if it was used.

Really any of these weapons is insignificant compared to what an fit but unarmed human can do. And that's why aeroplanes are safe these days: any hijacker will have to take on a hundred or more strong and highly motivated passengers.

+1. The rules have changed - it used to be "submit, avoid confrontation and eventually the hijackers will release you; even if it is after a prolonged period of time." Now it is "Kill the bastards before they can kill you." Whenever I fly I take note of what I can use to protect myself - whether it is my very sharp point all metal pen, my all metal laptop, or the power cord.

Re:Rubbish weapons (5, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | about a year ago | (#43384809)

The weapons in the photos look scary, but I bet they'd be really rubbish in real life. For example, the club is made from a rolled up magazine and some Liberty statuettes. It is small, not very heavy, not very sharp, and would probably fall apart if it was used.

You'd be surprised at how effective seemingly benign things like this are. It sounds akin to a Milwall brick [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Rubbish weapons (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43384917)

Yah, a club made from stale airport sandwiches would have been better.

No more hijacks in real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384305)

No-one will ever hijack a plane in real life again, at least in the west, because you can't get in the cockpit, and people will assume they're going to die anyway and will risk death from any hand weapon to stop the hijacker.

The only weapon of any real consequence is one which can puncture the skin of the aircraft, or kill everyone on board some other way. Other than this you might as well ban all these things from busses and trains etc. where they would have the exact same effect.

Arbitrariness of airport security (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about a year ago | (#43384331)

This is one of the reasons airport security has bugged me so much - I've been inconvenienced over trivial things that don't really matter to security, whilst equivalent or greater threats just go unmentioned. I once had a cone spanner confiscated. That's a very small, thin spanner, suitable for adjusting bicycle bearings - and very little else - I'd lost it at the bottom of my bag and hadn't realised it was there (though I had flown the outbound leg successfully without security picking up on it!).

It was against the rules to let "tools" through the checkpoint - but couple of weeks later on a much larger, more significant flight, I was able to get a heavier spanner for free on the front of a biking magazine in the duty free area. Derp.

Whats the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384343)

Other than distracting law enforcement officials for a short time, which could be done entirely non-violently, what could anyone gain from this silliness?

I GET it, checkpoint security could be toned DOWN a lot and still be effective, but it's hard to see how that message gets across by demonstrating all the other things you can do after the checkpoint. The other end of the argument could be "move the checkpoint up" and your message is lost.

Self defense classes (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43384357)

Anyone who takes a self defense class (especially women's self defense) will learn how to "weaponize" ordinary objects that we all have at hand every day. Umbrellas and CDs/DVDs make vicious weapons when broken.
"That's my purse! I don't know you!" -Bobby Hill

This Is Why (1)

hduff (570443) | about a year ago | (#43384361)

This is why we can't have nice things.

But...will it change anything? (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about a year ago | (#43384365)

Hard to believe that anything will change. After all, the threat of terrorism was out there and well-known prior to 9/11, but the airlines still shirked all defensive/offensive tactics (even basics like strengthened cockpit doors) in the name of profit - and they got away with it because they liberally dispensed cash to their lobbyists.

I daresay no one will argue an assertion that the liquor industry, as one example of an airport retailer, likewise has a significant lobbying presence in Washington, D.C....et al.

My Q&D human translation of the Dutch article (4, Informative)

fondacio (835785) | about a year ago | (#43384421)

Researcher builds bomb out of articles from airport shops

To demonstrate the futility of current airport security, next week a security expert will demonstrate a remotely controllable bomb. All the materials were bought at the airport once past security.

The detonation mechanism will be presented at security conference Hack in the Box in Amsterdam. It is the result of two years of research by security expert Evan Booth.

“There are all kinds of things we cannot take with us and security checks for those. But it turns out that this doesn’t make much sense,” says Booth.

The detonation mechanism is the result of more than two years of research into deficient security at airports and available materials which are sold the in stores which are located ait airports behind customs.

Drone

To build the mechanism, Booth has used a Zippo lighter, disposable lighters, adhesive tape, dental floss and a remote controlled drone. “Which can be opreated with a mobile phone through a wireless network”, claims Booth.

He used the engine from the drone to operate the zippo lighter. With disposable lighters, it is possible subsequently to create a blowtorch. By doing this, it would be possible to cause a fire, but at the conference Booth will present a more developed concept which even enables the detonation of a bomb.

Simple

“The trick is to prove that you can have dangerous weapons on board without carrying any forbidden items with you”, Booth has stated to NU.nl.

Apart from a bomb, Booth also managed without much effort to create a bow and arrow out of items he had bought in a shop at an airport. For this, he used an umbrella, a hairdryer, socks, a leather belt and condoms. He did not want to further develop things were too obvious, such as using a lighter and deodorant as an alternative gas burner.

Also remarkable is a club he created out of a souvenir, some magazines, dental floss, a leather belt and adhesive tape. During a test, this club turned out to be so solid that a single strike sufficed to break a coconut into several pieces.

Profiling

“Airport security has not been done well for a while now. What annoys me, is that we spend a lot of money on it and, for example, violate people’s privacy with body scanners. In the meantime, it turns out it doesn’t work well”, explains Booth.

“It is a difficult problem, but I don’t know if this security makes any sense at all. I believe more in good intelligence and preventing the wrong people from coming to the airport.”

To pre-empt problems with authorities, Booth has contacted the responsible government agencies in the United States in February. “I have offered to demonstrate my research and provide explanations, but I haven’t received any response. In the meantime, I have continued my research.”

Wait what? (1)

raehl (609729) | about a year ago | (#43384557)

Since when can you buy lighters in airports?

And I wouldn't count making a bow and arrow as being successful at getting a (useful) weapon on a plane. A bow and arrow is a virtually useless device in the close-quarters of an aircraft.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384685)

You can buy deodorant - which is one possible component for a flamethrower, and in some tax free shops you can buy RC vehicles for kids, add a Swiss army knife, Leatherman multitool or other similar tool from another shop and you can cause a lot of harm. Lithium camera batteries are also "interesting" combined with water - or short circuited.

You have a lot of options aside from the plain stab and beat weapons you can invent.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384739)

Been to an airport lately? Only one I've had trouble buying a lighter at was in Beijing.

Planes also have these long, clear avenues of flight for missile weapons known as "aisles".

Honestly? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43384471)

Did anyone honestly believe it was the opposite?

Not news: knowledge has always been ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384499)

... a more powerful weapon. Anyone with a basic knowledge of physics and turn anything into a powerful weapon, including their own body. Anyone with a knowledge of chemistry of physics is more capable of making use of the things that they find around them. Anyone with a knowledge of psychology or security is better able to manipulate the mechanisms that are supposed to keep us safe. And the list could go on.

Here's a clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43384599)

Here's a clue: and dangerous mind and a pair of hands are lethal weapons. In any case, this guy is now on every watch list there is in the United States of Stupid/Paranoia.

Next headline (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43384617)

Next headline will read:

TSA: How To Eliminate Researcher Evan Booth While Pretending To Be In Line With The Constitution

What this tells us about the scope of the problem. (3, Interesting)

MarkvW (1037596) | about a year ago | (#43384669)

This ought to teach us just how disorganized and scarce these "Al Quaeda" suicidal terrorists are. If there were that many of them, they'd have figured out how to make airplane assault weapons long before this guy's ideas made it into print.

We are being sold a bill of goods by contractors who want the government to buy their overpriced "anti-terrorist" product-of-the-month.

Every damn politician is now afraid of being perceived as "soft on terrorism," and we now have an Antiterrorism Industry intent on perpetuating itself.

This is getting REALLY stupid . . . almost as stupid as the internet bubble.

Great (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year ago | (#43384885)

Just at the moment they were relaxing the regulations requiring mothers to drink their own milk and fathers to drink their urine...

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