• Tungsten-lined undies protect naughty bits from radiation

    A Colorado company offers an attractive line of tungsten-lined undies, aimed, the company says, to protect “the traveling public, airline, medical, and security professionals from radiation generated by security and medical imaging equipment”; business is booming

  • Behavior-based solution keeps airports secure, passengers' privacy intact

    Israeli company WeCU says its behavior-based security solution addresses many of the problems now encountered at U.S. airports; the WeCU concept exploits human characteristics and behavior: when a person intends to carry out a particular activity or has a significant acquaintance or involvement with a subject, he carries with him information and feelings that are associated with the activity or the subject; the WeCU system identifies this associative connection by actively exposing the person being screened to stimuli targeted at a specific threat, followed by detection of the person’s physiological reaction, or response, to the stimuli through nonintrusive biometric sensors; the system detects the individual’s reaction without his or her knowledge and without requiring their cooperation, and without interfering with routine activities

  • Full-body-scan "opt-outs" at U.S airports at normal rate

    The organizers of the airport screening “National Opt-Out Day” hoped to exploit the American public’s anger at, and dissatisfaction with, the current state of affairs — anger that found expression earlier this month in the midterm elections — for a spectacular demonstration which would paralyze domestic air-travel during the busy Thanksgiving travel period: they called on travelers to opt-out of full-body scanning, thus forcing TSA screeners to pat them down, bringing air travel to a halt; the organizers failed to reckon with two set of numbers: fewer than 3 percent of travelers receive pat-downs, and the vast majority of Americans — as much as 80 percent — approve of full-body scanners being used at U.S. airports; the result: the stunt has failed, and the number of travelers opting out of full-body scans is not higher than normal

  • Lawmakers demand better TSA pat-down training

    Lawmakers write the president, TSA to demand a better system of security checks at airports; demand ; “Surely it is possible to secure an airplane without sacrificing individual liberties or privacy. We can utilize bomb-sniffing dogs, AIT machines as a method of secondary screening, and behavioral profiling to accomplish the shared goal of safe and secure air travel,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) wrote Obama; “These new searches are a novel procedure both for the traveling public and your front line TSA officers, and I am not convinced the Transportation Security officers have received adequate training in what is clearly an invasive procedure,” Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) wrote the TSA administrator

  • FAA to require photos, but no biometric info, on pilot's licenses

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed that all pilot certificates include a photo of the licensee, but one lawmaker wants to know why the passport-size cards will not include biometric identification five years after Congress passed a law requiring such unique identifiers

  • TSA to make airports screenings "minimally invasive"

    The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), facing protests from travelers and pressure from the White House, appeared to give ground Sunday on his position that there would be no change in policies regarding invasive passenger screening procedures; John Pistole said in a statement that the agency would work to make screening methods “as minimally invasive as possible,” although he gave no indication that screening changes were imminent; still, he pointed to the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to try to bring down an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight last Christmas. “We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” Pistole said, “but that just isn’t the case”

  • Qaeda's new tactics: heavy economic damage, low-cost operations

    In a detailed account of its failed parcel bomb plot three weeks ago, al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said late Saturday that the operation cost only $4,200 to mount, was intended to disrupt global air cargo systems and reflected a new strategy of low-cost attacks designed to inflict broad economic damage; the organization said the fear, disruption, and added security costs caused by the packages made what it called Operation Hemorrhage a success

  • Q&A: Full-body scanners

    Questions are being raised about the privacy and health aspects of wide use of full-body scanners; here is one example: millimeter wave scanners, in theory, ought to be safer than X-rays because millimeter photons do not have enough energy to break chemical bonds; last year, however, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory found that while these photons cannot break DNA, they can shake it: this shaking may be so strong that it unzips the two strands in DNA, interfering with the genetic machinery that keeps cells working and healthy

  • TSA struggles to balance security, privacy

    Travelers at U.S. airports who refuse to be screened via new full body scanners must undergo an extensive hand search, which include touching of the genital region and breasts; John Pistole, head of TSA, said he understood privacy concerns, but security was paramount; a new poll out on Tuesday suggested that eight out of ten Americans support full body X-ray machines being installed throughout the United States to help security officials check underneath passengers’ clothing; John Tyner, 31, who was thrown out of San Diego International Airport after refusing both a full-body scan and a pat down, faces a $10,000 fine if he is sued by the TSA

  • Manchester Airport conducts distance biometrics trial

    Manchester Airport begins a 2-week trial of a system which can recognize an individual’s iris while they walk around; the system might allow international transfer passengers to mix with domestic passengers in a departure lounge because they can be securely identified before boarding their flight

  • Communications gap allowed packet bomb to go unchecked

    German customs officials wanted to search last week’s package containing a bomb from Yemen, but it had left the country by the time the paperwork arrived; a communications breakdown enabled the explosive to pass through Germany without security checks; the security gap at the Cologne-Bonn Airport meant that the explosive-laden printer from Yemen avoided customs

  • Full-body scanners at U.S. airports may be dangerous: scientists

    U.S. scientists warned that the full-body, graphic-image X-ray scanners now being used to screen passengers and airline crews at airports around the country may be unsafe; scientists say that most of the energy from the scanners is delivered to the skin and underlying tissue; “While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high,” they say

  • Mail bomb timed to explode over eastern U.S.

    British police investigators say that forensic evidence showed the explosive device hidden inside an ink cartridge, originally sent from Yemen by way of Cologne, Germany, was timed to be detonated about six to seven hours after the cargo aircraft carrying it left the United Kingdom for the United States — meaning that it could have exploded over the East Coast of the United States; the UPS cargo plane intercepted in England left the country without the package at 11:20 p.m. ET on 28 October, two hours after landing, police said; the device was timed to be activated at 5:30 a.m. ET, said British police

  • Shippers campaign against full screening of cargo on planes

    The TSA decided that starting last August, it would mandate the screening of all cargo on passenger planes loaded in the United States; it said its rule would not apply to cargo placed on U.S.-bound passenger flights overseas, or to cargo-only flights; the Obama administration announced new cargo rules Monday banning freight out of Yemen and Somalia; it also restricted the shipment of printer and toner cartridges weighing more than a pound on all passenger flights and some cargo flights; the overall cargo security rules were unchanged

  • Better bomb sniffer built

    Chemists have developed a sensor that detects minute amounts of TATP, an explosive favored by terrorists because it is easy to make and difficult to detect; TATP is easy to make from readily available ingredients: acetone, hydrogen peroxide, and an acid; since none of these ingredients contains nitrogen, the most common target for current bomb-sniffing technologies, TATP is especially difficult to detect