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  • Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

    So, this product recently got some notice and appeared on Fark and whatnot.

    Essentially, there are a few manufacturers who are trying to design laptop cases that can pass through scanner machines without the need to remove the laptop contained within. The article states a few things that made my eyebrows raise curiously...

    one of the biggest post-9/11 security hassles: making airline travelers take laptops out of cases at airport checkpoints.
    i would posit that shortages of screening lanes (some of this is budget for staffing/training and some of this is simply airport design which is prohibitive of more lanes)

    if we're talking strictly in terms of procedure, pulling laptops out doesn't seem to take nearly as long as surrendering one's shoes and putting them back on.

    also, in addition to my complaint of a shortage of screeners, i would state that there's also a horrible dearth of room in which to prepare for the scan and then recover afterwards. i'd love to see many, many more tables (or a cafeteria-style countertops where you can just slide your stuff along) such that they could accommodate a dozen or more people "on deck" at once would be nice, as would spaces for people to reassemble their shit further away from the lanes when done.

    prototypes of new laptop cases that would let airport screeners see a laptop clearly and not block or clutter an X-ray image with thick padding, straps or electronics.
    so... essentially these would be pretty worthless as far as laptop cases go. they wouldn't hold a lot of gear and couldn't protect your laptop all that well, from what i'm seeing.

    Laptops now must be removed so screeners can see if they are concealing bombs or weapons.
    again, call B.S. on most of this. personally, i'm eager for some sort of chemical-detection process that would be far more suited than just x-raying bags.

    "checkpoint-friendly" cases. Many ideas feature "clamshell designs" with two sides that fold together like a book. One side holds papers, cables and other accessories; the other side holds only the laptop.
    sounds like many typical laptop cases would be fine, then... if you unzippered them and have the laptop on one side, exposed, and your cables and other gear all on the other side.

    so my question to you all...

    If you could make your own rules for airport security, what would they be? What specific changes to current policy would you like? Or, in general, what just aggravates the hell out of you that you wish could be different?

    Just speak freely in your own words, heh. Try to not make too many references to Kip Hawley and farm animals.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

  • #2
    Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

    They should let a bunch of us design a security checkpoint, and then have people test it with prohibited items.
    "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

      Theprez98: why do I get the feeling that Noid would be at the end and beat the crap outta anyone trying to test the system :)

      I agree that longer tables and a system to make it easier to strip off all offending items and get them into bins is essential, the problem is one of the space involved.

      Having been through a number of airports recently, I've kept note of differences. Mostly it seems to be an issue of if the space was designed pre or post 9/11. Airports that have been built since (or renovated) typically have long tables before security and lots of bins and lots of lanes. Ones that are older (Like La guardia's terminal for Air Canada) they are having to make do with the space that was allocated from about the 1970's and a simple metal detector was the most advanced tech. Others are just dumb. The Ottawa airport domestic gate has lots of tables but they are very short and not connected, making you carry the bins form one to another. Damn annoying and time consuming.

      Laptops in bags are tricky, not because they are laptops, but because of all the weird accessories people carry (cables, chargers, mice, etc). That's what obscures the X-Ray. The idea is to make cases that make this easy to deal with. One option could be a 'break away' section for the laptop that disconnects from the main part of the bag, but it must also reconnect quickly.

      Shoes. Typically I'm in steel toes, so I should talk. Alot of airports don't require you to remove shoes anymore. Tech has moved to the point where this is not an issue anymore. All airports should be mandated to use the latest tech to prevent people from being inconvenienced.

      Overall, the major change needed is one of communication. *Why* am I pulling my laptop out. *Why* are liquids still banned? Generally if you tell people what you are looking for, they will know not to do things. The stupid security theater of secrecy about why your bag is getting extra attention is annoying and a waste. If you see something wierd in my bag, show me the x-ray and I can zero in on what it is very quickly, rather than you rooting around in my bag and messing up any organization I might have.

      The hacker ideal of a security checkpoint would be one of 2 things;

      No carry on, bomb resistant luggage containers and everyone fly's naked Or;

      Everyone is armed to the teeth, but then there would be no bar service on any flights.

      Tough call.
      Never drink anything larger than your head!





      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

        I always thought they made you take them out because the batteries were hard to x-ray and they wanted to make sure it was a laptop and not some other devious device. Also, I thought for awhile there they were making you turn them on to prove that they were a laptop. Dump the electronics, and pack the laptop case with Semtex, switch, plus battery and you have a pretty formidable device there. Heck you could pull the hard drive and replace it with Semtex and still have a significant explosion especially on a plane with a pressurized cabin.

        xor

        PS If you ever god forbid find yourself in a 9/11 situation Semtex is brick red in color and c4 is off white. If it looks like silly putty, or playdo it probably is.
        Last edited by xor; May 22, 2008, 17:31.
        Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

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        • #5
          Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

          Just remember folks, the seats become a flotation device in the event of a water landing. The tray table becomes a weapon in case of a hijacking.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

            Originally posted by renderman View Post
            The hacker ideal of a security checkpoint would be one of 2 things;

            No carry on, bomb resistant luggage containers and everyone fly's naked Or;

            Everyone is armed to the teeth, but then there would be no bar service on any flights.
            [My emphasis in bold.]

            I agree with Renderman with this. Make people fly naked; we would no longer have to worry about invasion of privacy while flying. Why? We just make all private things, public. ]:>

            Additionally, if a guy is standing in line and gets excited, we can hear from Miss Manners about how it is impolite to, "point."

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            • #7
              Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

              Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
              [My emphasis in bold.]

              I agree with Renderman with this. Make people fly naked; we would no longer have to worry about invasion of privacy while flying. Why? We just make all private things, public. ]:>

              Additionally, if a guy is standing in line and gets excited, we can hear from Miss Manners about how it is impolite to, "point."

              I figured that both options canceled each other out. Flying naked means dealing with actually seeing how some of those people fit into seats and would generally make me not want to fly. The other is that if everyone is armed, you don't want to get the passengers liquored up, so no bar service anymore, which would take the only thing left that makes flying tolerable anymore.

              The 3rd option is for an airline or someone to get the passengers to sign a waiver that they know planes can't be 100% secure and they are willing to pay more to not go through the security bullshit and get ass raped by security if they know everyone else on the plane hasn't either.

              There's no easy answer to security on planes, however there are some for making it as minimally tooth pulling as possible for those that have to deal with it on both sides.
              Never drink anything larger than your head!





              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                Originally posted by renderman View Post
                I figured that both options canceled each other out. Flying naked means dealing with actually seeing how some of those people fit into seats and would generally make me not want to fly.
                Ahh, yes; a down-side. I guess that another down-side would be risk of seats with brown stains. Maybe this isn't such a good idea. Of course, with fewer people flying, maybe the lines might be shorter.

                The other is that if everyone is armed, you don't want to get the passengers liquored up, so no bar service anymore, which would take the only thing left that makes flying tolerable anymore.

                The 3rd option is for an airline or someone to get the passengers to sign a waiver that they know planes can't be 100% secure and they are willing to pay more to not go through the security bullshit and get ass raped by security if they know everyone else on the plane hasn't either.
                We can call that flight the drug Mule express.

                Side question:
                Are babies considered carry-on luggage or passengers?

                There's no easy answer to security on planes, however there are some for making it as minimally tooth pulling as possible for those that have to deal with it on both sides.
                What about pet guard snakes (on a plane)?

                Passengers could be forced to remove all of their clothing and wear an outfit provided to them by the airlines. Then they could be scanned. Then they could ship all of their other items by another method. If planes are converted for this, then some planes could be dedicated to just passengers, and other planes can be dedicated to just cargo. Costs would go up, but such a system could help make the passengers more secure than they are right now from passenger-based hijacking.

                This would mean no laptops, books, bottle, baby formula, diapers, etc., but on the plus side, no more crying babies on flights.

                In all seriousness, I don't mind the inconvenience of bringing a laptop, and getting it checked in order to have access to it during the flight.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                  First off, your answers all made me laugh, I was a big gloomy today after having to drive through a lot of the destruction that occurred in my neighborhood yesterday.

                  Denver International -> they have about 6-8 security lanes open and a giant cue with tons of switchbacks. it goes pretty well, but looks scary. they get bottlenecked at the people who check your boarding pass. You get the minimal 2' of getting naked for the screener before you put your stuff on the belt for the x-ray. The nice thing about Denver, is that they have a place with a bunch of large benches to just fling your stuff done and get organized.

                  IIRC- Phoenix has signs that say "Got Laptop?" after security.

                  Laptop cases: omg that would be so nice. I am scared to death I will lose something (else) while having to take another thing out of my bag. I lose my ID on average about 4 times each time I go through the airport cuz you have to show it so much, and the last time I was in DIA, i straight up lost my ID for an hour before I got on my plane.

                  Shoes: I really hate that BS. What if they had some crazy sensors in the floor that looked for things?

                  Liquids: Since from what I understand about explosive chemicals...arent they in a solid form when they are made? Like couldn't you just put them in a play dough container and call it good? I don't know much about how they work, but are there a lot of explosive things you can make with liquids?

                  .02
                  ======================================
                  DJ Jackalope
                  dopest dj in the galaxy. *mwah!*

                  send in the drop bears!
                  ======================================

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                    Originally posted by DJ Jackalope View Post
                    I lose my ID on average about 4 times each time I go through the airport cuz you have to show it so much
                    see, i only ever have to show my ID twice at the most in an airport... once when checking in (sometimes you don't need even that if you use a kiosk or have an internet-type check-in and boarding pass) and once at the really annoying point just before security.

                    Originally posted by DJ Jackalope View Post
                    Shoes: I really hate that BS. What if they had some crazy sensors in the floor that looked for things?
                    yeah, shoes are pretty much all security theater. By the way, for anyone interested in one of the best articles you may ever read about airport security, take a few minutes to check out Sue Stott's Keep Your Shoes On and Tell the Truth (overview and abstract here, full article here) which explores the often-discussed theme of how a place like Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv differs greatly in their approach to security, using people-centric techniques as opposed to the very american (and often european) method of searching for particular banned objects, etc.

                    some choice quotes...
                    covert “security profilers” are watching all passengers and pedestrians. If screeners spot someone behaving according to certain criteria, they will dispatch an armed security official (armed overt security forces back up all undercover profilers) to engage that person in further conversation, which, again, is designed to elicit dishonesty and other indicators of concern. ...

                    irregularities at any of the checkpoints or in between can, however, result in enhanced scrutiny. And this can involve a physical search, the disassembling of any electronics and a nearly microscopic examination of carry-ons. Ben Gurion maintains squads of engineers trained to disassemble, examine and reassemble all electronics, inspect shoes—including inserting a device that looks like a metal hypodermic needle into a shoe’s rubber sole to analyze extracted air or content—baggage, clothing and any other objects with very specialized equipment. They’ve got one row of nothing but dozens and dozens of screwdrivers in different shapes and sizes. They are very prepared. ...

                    asked to step onto the MagShoe, the development of which was initiated by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and executed by New York-based IDO Security in conjunction with the technical branch of ISA. MagShoe is a metal detector designed to detect concealed weapons in shoes and around ankles. Last September, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge’s consulting firm, Ridge Global LLC, was hired by IDO as a consultant. Magshoe is currently being tested by TSA.
                    Originally posted by DJ Jackalope View Post
                    explosive chemicals...arent they in a solid form when they are made? Like couldn't you just put them in a play dough container and call it good? I don't know much about how they work, but are there a lot of explosive things you can make with liquids?
                    yeah, this was teh old and busted almost as soon as the original "threat" went public. making something hazardous out of liquids is all but impossible on a plane. (at least, something capable of bringing the plane down which is what really matters)

                    sure, you could make some sort of acid or other compound that would be harmful to people and attempt to influence pilots by threatening passengers... but that's all B.S. in my opinion. unbreakable rules concerning "do not unlock the door, do not comply with demands" are key to any shit like that. i just want the planes to stay up in the sky. liquids will never interrupt a flight path or blow a hole in a cabin.

                    So that's my take on things... people-based security as opposed to item-based security. (and if implemented properly, folks will understand that it's not about profiling based on anything you'd need to be upset about (race or gender or age) but rather about behavior overall. It's so similar to what we've learned in the digital world... packets coming an going on a particular port or in specific sizes/intervals aren't always a sign of good or bad network activity... but rather it's all data that should be part of a holistic approach to security where you try to see what those packets are doing and for what purpose. (catch Bruce Potter's talk at DefCon to see great implementations of the "this data doesn't belong here" model of security and how well it can work.)

                    So, i leave you now... i'm off to Maryland to celebrate our history of liberty and rebellion. (Thankfully, i'm driving the Yukon and not flying by air)

                    May your travels be safe, may they be hassle-free, and may you not get harassed for sporting a freedom bag.
                    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                    - Trent Reznor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                      i may just have a screwed up mind, but im always thinking of ways to go around security.. not that i do, or even have a reason to... it just comes natural to me... is that odd?
                      unda est terminus. is iuguolo ambitus.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                        Originally posted by sharxbyte View Post
                        i may just have a screwed up mind, but im always thinking of ways to go around security.. not that i do, or even have a reason to... it just comes natural to me... is that odd?
                        Not odd at all. Bruce Schneier once said something alone the lines that security types often walk into a store and imagine how they might rob it. The overwhelming majority of people will never actually do it, but it's just the mindset. I typically look for security cameras, other security-related devices, etc., anytime I walk into an unfamiliar place. I also look for more than one way to exit, and typically choose a place to sit where I can see the most people. Paranoid? Maybe, but I suspect others do the same.
                        "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                          Originally posted by theprez98 View Post
                          typically choose a place to sit where I can see the most people.
                          i do this all the time, especially when i eat, typically without realizing it.

                          i've actually heard that (at least as far as mealtime goes) this is a biological characteristic of humans (most particularly men) that's been hard-wired into our brains through evolution. being able to comfortably consume food is often linked to being able to feel secure in your environment while eating.

                          it's interesting because i have male friends with whom eating is always interesting, since we both consistently want to have backs to a wall facing the main entrance/exit and i also have female friends who have told me they specifically make a point to sit in the "less desirable" seat when on a date... often times the guy they are with will have a much more enjoyable and comfortable meal and not even realize the reason why... he'll just go home and say to himself "man, i sure had a great time with that gal... much better than the last few dates i was on" etc etc.
                          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                          - Trent Reznor

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                            So exactly what are the guide lines for having ones laptop taken and forensically examined by the TSA? My little brother is going to Mexico for his wedding in August and he was planning on taking his along. He is an accountant with a uber high end firm. Ever since I told them they were grabbing them he is totally paranoid.

                            I too will be traveling to Mexico and expect to get the full TSA special treatment as I will be traveling alone and for like 3 - 4 days. I can hear the rubber glove snapping as I write this. :-)

                            xor
                            Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This applies to making babies, hacking, and youtube videos.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Laptops, TSA, and an open-ended "how would you do it?" question

                              Originally posted by xor View Post
                              So exactly what are the guide lines for having ones laptop taken and forensically examined by the TSA? My little brother is going to Mexico for his wedding in August and he was planning on taking his along. He is an accountant with a uber high end firm. Ever since I told them they were grabbing them he is totally paranoid.

                              I too will be traveling to Mexico and expect to get the full TSA special treatment as I will be traveling alone and for like 3 - 4 days. I can hear the rubber glove snapping as I write this. :-)

                              xor
                              There is no guidlines, thats the creepy part.

                              The rumbling in the conspiracy theory crowd is that they might target international businesses from other countries coming in to swipe business intelligence to help US businesses compete. Anything to prop up the economy right?

                              You have to remember though that no numbers have been released and the major press is because some guy who was caught with kiddie porn on his laptop (dumbass) claimed the search was illegal and the judge smacked him down, clarifying the precident.

                              Now mix in H1kari's talk partner getting the shakedown at heathrow on his way to Dubai for a talk (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/200...esearcher.html) and things get really interesting.

                              My advice, leave the wierd shit at home, if you need to take it, document the hell out of it so if it is siezed, they can't 'lose' it.

                              And as for data, VPN in and download it when your past the border
                              Never drink anything larger than your head!





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