http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=596029 [While this post on the surface has nothing to do with infosec, there is a little lesson here about watching parts of your security where you're pretty sure things are nice, tight, safe & secure. At least this was the feeling at a secure wing of Heathrow Airport. :) - WK] By Michael Holden 14 February, 2002 08:52 GMT LONDON (Reuters) - Passenger jets are as vulnerable to terrorism as they were before September 11 despite tightened security measures, aviation experts say. Claims that security has been significantly improved, particularly in the United States, were little more than "a lot of noise and public relations spin", Chris Yates, airport security editor for Jane's Defence Weekly, told Reuters. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks when suicide hijackers flew planes into New York's World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington killing more than 3,000, tougher security was introduced at airports worldwide. Searches on check-in have grown more rigorous, all sharp objects, from knives to tweezers, are removed from passengers, and plastic cutlery has replaced metal knives and forks on board planes. Yates's comments come after two major breaches of security at British airports in the last week. In the first, an operator in charge of a scanning machine at Manchester Airport flunked a security test by allowing guns, fake explosives and bomb-making equipment onto a passenger flight. On Monday, robbers stole $6.5 million in a raid on a British Airways van in a secure area at London's Heathrow Airport, the world's busiest international hub. "If you can drive into an airfield to steal $6.5 million, you can easily drive in and plant a bomb," Yates said. Both incidents showed the industry was still vulnerable to the "human factor", Tim Spicer, a mercenary turned security consultant, told Reuters. "I was pretty staggered that the Heathrow incident took place," said Spicer, head of Strategic Consulting International, which recently audited security at Sri Lankan airports. "The danger is keeping up security, as guarding is pretty mind-numbing stuff. When you don't have an incident, it's human nature for people to slack off." In December, French authorities failed to stop Richard Reid, the Briton suspected of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoe, from boarding an American Airlines plane from Paris to Miami. The 28-year-old was overpowered by passengers and crew but only after an alert flight attendant saw him apparently trying to set his shoes on fire. The Department of Transport, which is responsible for UK airport security, has demanded urgent answers into the security breach at Heathrow. All staff should be searched before entering restricted zones at airports, a spokeswoman told Reuters. "We're not complacent about aviation security. We have got some of the most stringent aviation security programmes in the world and these remain at a heightened level," she said. 100 PERCENT SAFETY IMPOSSIBLE But a government source admitted to Reuters it was impossible to achieve 100 percent security without bringing the industry to a standstill. Last November, President George W. Bush vowed "permanent and aggressive steps" to bolster security in the U.S. with stronger cockpit doors, armed marshals on planes, better technology and the hiring of 28,000 federal baggage screeners within a year. "The U.S. is making a lot of fuss but very few orders have been made for any new equipment and the ultimate goal of having 100 percent baggage screening in place by the end of the year isn't going to happen," Yates said. "The industry has been guilty of going for high-profile security, bolting the front door but leaving the back door wide open. There are any number of U.S. airfields where the perimeter security is downright appalling." Spicer, a former British army lieutenant colonel who made headlines in the late 1990s as a gun for hire in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea, said it was exactly this vulnerable "back-door" that terrorists would look to exploit. "It's much more likely that an attempt to put something on a plane will be done through the back door than someone trying to carry it on," he said. "You can have a good system but you will always have your little Trojan Horse. That's the worry." - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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