Guy Builds Ten Weapons With Products Purchased After Getting Through Airport Security

from the security-theater dept

If past history is any indication, it seems likely that the little convenience shop on the "air side" of most airports is soon going to be told to stop selling certain items. Last week a few sites, including Boing Boing, Gizmodo and Business Insider, all had stories on a guy who showed how to build a small bomb in less than ten minutes with items that could all be purchased after already passing through TSA security in an airport. The bomb may not be that big, but you could see how it could do at least some damage (and, given the situation, it's not that difficult to imagine ways to make changes to it that would be more damaging).
But, here's the thing. That video isn't the only weapon shown. The YouTube account Terminal Cornucopia actually put up ten videos of weapons that can be built on the air side of airport security, including a crossbow, a remote detonator, a slingbow, a "remotely triggered incendiary suitcase," a shotgun, a spiked club, a pewter slug and a blowgun.
Frankly, the exploding suitcase and possibly the shotgun strike me as even more impressive than the initial small bomb.


So, who's behind this? Apparently, it's a security researcher named Evan Booth who explains that he sent all of these examples to the TSA. He also explains his response to the obvious question: "but what if the terrorists see these videos?"
That’s a great question. An even better question is: What if they already know all this? All of these findings have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (TSA) to help them better detect these types of threats. Furthermore, the next time you fly, you’ll be flying as a more informed consumer (and taxpayer, possibly) — one who is more equipped to demand better, more appropriate airport security.
Which, of course, is really the point. Pretending that keeping this info secret makes people safer means believing that if you don't know about a security hole it goes away.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Rikuo (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 3:27am

    So...when was he arrested? That's pretty much the standard response these days in the Land of the Free when showing security vulnerabilities.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 3:47am

    I hope he doesn't need or intend to fly anytime soon(or ever again), as I imagine he just landed himself a front row seat on the 'Dangerous enough to keep from flying, but not dangerous enough to arrest' No-fly list, and all the 'random' patdowns, strip-searches and cavity checks he could ever need.

     

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    Violynne (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 4:55am

    I'm not surprised by this. If prisoners can fashion weapons from everything things such as a newspaper (warning: newspapers may be banned from planes after TSA reads this comment), then there's opportunity for others to craft devices found everywhere.

    It wouldn't surprise me if people made weapons from things found aboard the very plane they're flying on.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:47am

      Re:

      Truth is, if someone wants to cause mayhem on an airplane/airport, there are plenty of opportunities and methods available, some of which don't require much ingenuity or specific talent.

      Like you said, prisoners can fashion crude weapons from basic materials. A mirror (those haven't been banned yet, right?) can be broken and wrapped with some toilet paper to make a simple shiv.

      Plastic cutlery (or a toothbrush, etc.) can be sharpened against some abrasive surface (the bathroom wall?) into a deadly cutting edge.

      These are just some examples.

      For those not familiar, those crude weapons are sharp, and rather effective in the hands of someone with the right motivation. One slice on your jugular and you're dead.

      Anyway, six people thus armed can take over a plane, no problem, especially if they make an example out of some hapless passenger first. They could also - alternatively - grab some people in the airport terminal and hold a "knife" to their throats*.

      Obsessing over what bits people can bring into airplanes, and what kinds of weapons they can fashion with those bits is both unhealthy and unproductive. Time would be better spent trying to figure out ways to make airports and planes a less desirable target...like locking and hardening the pilot cabin doors, which has done more for security than all of these years of theater.



      * In both situations, the "terrorists" will get torn to shreds by officers with guns, but, as we know, the point of terrorism is to show up in the news, not necessarily make it out alive.

       

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        nasch (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re:

        Anyway, six people thus armed can take over a plane, no problem,

        Not anymore. They could start to take over a plane and get swarmed by passengers. They might be able to kill a few people, but they wouldn't get into the cockpit before they were taken down unless they had better weapons than anything in these videos.

         

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    TasMot (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 5:56am

    What didn't make his list:

    He didn't add the extremely dangerous Poptart chewed into a gun shape, the gun drawn on paper, or the ever popular gun shaped fingers while saying "BANG" weapons...... How incomplete!

     

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    eadwacer, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    What's TSA been doing all this time?

    TSA has had a decade to figure this stuff out, but they'd prefer to spend a $billion on a bogus behavioral program rather than spending an afternoon in the gift shop.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:39am

      Re: What's TSA been doing all this time?

      Quite, though I wouldn't have the TSA in charge of looking for ways to make stuff like that dangerous(government employees as a whole are not exactly rewarded or encouraged to be creative), in their shoes I'd enlist a far more dangerous, and creative group:

      Junior high and high school students.

      It would go something like this(Either A or B):

      A) Set up a competition, where numerous schools are provided the contents of your typical airport gift-shop, given a month to brain-storm and create, and tell them that the top three schools to come up with the most numerous 'potentially dangerous designs' will receive a reward.

      B) Same as A, except tell them that it's just a 'creativity' challenge, warn them strongly that they are not to create anything that looks like a weapon, and then at the end of the month see how many ways the little crazies have come up with to turn otherwise harmless items into things that go boom, zap, slice, or otherwise cause havoc, all while looking harmless.

       

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        nasch (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re: What's TSA been doing all this time?

        It would go something like this(Either A or B):

        Except there is absolutely no chance of having anything even remotely resembling a weapons building contest at a school.

         

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    BentFranklin (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Of course Mentos is implicated!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:26am

    O_O

    Holy hell this guy has balls that clank! I won't even say any words that has the letter b at the airport.

     

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      McGreed, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:19am

      Re: O_O

      Real men play Bomberman on their tablet, with the sound turned up, while loudly commenting what's going on. ;)

       

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    JWW (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Thanks

    Gee, thanks dude, I didn't' want to be able to buy and take any of that stuff on the plane anymore.

    Sometimes just proving something can be done doesn't mean it something you should do.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:52am

      Re: Thanks

      Ah but here is the rub...
      the government telling the corporate sponsors they aren't allowed to sell things at inflated prices to a captive audience?

      TSA vs Corps...
      I expect to see some congresscritters getting more "donations" shortly...

       

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:31am

      Re: Thanks

      Yes because security through obscurity and secrecy works 100 percent of the time.

       

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    The Real Michael, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    This guy's pretty smart but this is pointless. Think about it -- if someone's determined to kill, is he really going to go through the trouble to craft one of these improv-devices in an airport, knowing that his chances of actually causing someone harm are slim and that he'd be swarmed within seconds?

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:55am

      Re:

      swarmed by whom?
      the flying public who most likely will pull out their phones to instagram what is going on rather than get involved?

      While some people with bad intentions have been stopped, more people are aware of the bad things that happen to people who take action rather than wait for someone else to solve it.

       

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        That One Guy (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re:

        In the case of 'plane hijackings' though, the 'bad things' would be 'everyone on the plane dies'(whether true in that instance or not, that's how people are likely to see it), so it would be in everyone's best interest to take out the hijackers, as sitting by and hoping someone else will do it is likely to lead to all of them dying.

         

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        JMT (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:32pm

        Re: Re:

        "swarmed by whom?"

        Ask Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 6:47am

    The TSA won't take it seriously, because even the TSA thinks the TSA isn't preventing any terrorists attacks as it is. The TSA just needs to look busy so they keep the faucet of defense spending going in their direction.

     

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    anonymouse, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    LOl

    The TSA is there to brainwash the public into thinking it should be ok to strip search and harass any member of the public, damn any American is prepared to have even worse done to anyone at the airport becasue they have been made to fear terrorism even in the most unlikely places, like an airport

    This just proves that the TSA is not there to protect against attacks , it is to brainwash the public into accepting that the right to freely move around the country is really in the hands of the government.

     

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    ECA (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Sooo..

    WE consider EVERY OTHER person, an IDIOT and they have the education of the USA..OR LESS??

    For those that DONT get it, this USED to be the BASIC info in most chemical books from the early years..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:48am

    That shotgun looks pretty dangerous….to the holder.

     

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    Hambone, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    To everyone who failed to read the article...
    THE.MAN.IS.A.SECURITY.RESEARCHER.
    So enough with the "OMG, AREST THE TURREST!".
    Thank You.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:13am

    I'm doing a research paper,on airport security my question is "is all of the security necessary?" Any ideas that I could back up are appreciated

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 6:13am

    I'm doing a research paper,on airport security my question is "is all of the security necessary?" Any ideas that I could back up are appreciated

     

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