Attempted Bombing of Airplane Highlights “Security Illusion”

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

The attempted bombing of a US airplane is alarming but no major surprise in a post 9/11 world. The terrorist had a device containing a high explosive attached to his body in both a liquid and powder form. The government says that as the flight neared Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday, Christmas Day, he set off the device, but it sparked a fire instead of an explosion.

The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule is 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure. However anyone who travels with any frequency will tell you that liquids and powders of all kinds are often mistakenly and sometime purposefully taken through security.

The Christmas’ days attempt reminds many of the case of Richard Reid, who was arrested after he tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his shoe while on an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight in 2001. Security is one guy trying to use his shoes to blow up a plane and millions have to remove them every day as a result.

Helen Keller once said that “security is an illusion; life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” I’ve always been fond of that quote but do not fully agree with it. “Security theater,” a relatively new term, consists of security countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security.

It is important to understand that security is more than, but in part illusion and theater. The illusion, like a magic act, looks very real and in many cases believable. Theater, is the show that is put on to give the illusion impact. Both play a role in deterring a criminal but neither add up to 100% security, as 100% security is unattainable.

But imagine if there were no security checkpoints, no metal detectors, no cameras, no alarms, no restrictions on liquids, no pat downs, no removing of shoes. Imagine if the TSA and all citizens took the “throw your hands in the air and give up” approach and elected for convenience over security. Tragedy would have certainly come, and come much sooner.

Home security isn’t completely an illusion. It is elusive, but it is attainable. Home security requires persistence, due-diligence and an investment of time, energy and a little money. Criminals often seek the path of least resistance. They will continue to wiggle doorknobs until they find one unlocked. Home security is layers of protection. The more layers in place, the more difficult you make it for the bad guy to do his job.

  1. Form a neighborhood watch
  2. Call a locksmith
  3. Install alarm systems
  4. Install security cameras
  5. Install exterior lighting
  6. Apply stickers and signage alerting protective measures
  7. Give your home the lived in look
  8. Put a big dog bowl on your porch that says “Killer” creating an “illusion”

See Robert discussing terrorists in your back yard on CNN

Robert Siciliano is a personal security and identity theft expert for Home Security Source. (Disclosures)

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