Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Airline Threats: Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself

I’m glad to hear that they caught a set of people with real plans and capabilities to carry out an act of mass murder. Too many of the recent groups arrested have fit better into the “round up some suspects” line of thinking.

I don’t have a lot to add to FDR’s fine words, but I would like to be able to choose what risks to take. I’m willing to trade the very high probability of getting some work done on an airplane for the very small, catastrophic risk of it being blown up. (In fact, I take that risk usually a few dozen times a year. This threat is not new.)

Andrew Cochran has a long, information rich post that he’s updating, “London Airline Bombing Plot News.” Walid Phares has some very interesting questions in “London: The ‘Shoe Bomber Factory’ Again.”

Bruce Schneier writes on “New Airline Security Rules,” Eric Rescorla analyzes them in “Threat Modelling Airplane Explosive Detection,” and Arnold Kling ties in Neal Stephenson’s work in “Libertarianism and Terrorism.”

[Update: There are very real tradeoffs being made here. People are being encouraged to drive, which is far riskier per mile than flying. See also “Security Ban Could Put Passengers’ Health at Risk,” at ABC News, (via Dave Farber’s IP List.)]

One comment on "Airline Threats: Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself"

  • It was a pleasure to finally meet you in the flesh!
    Unlike some perceived threats this is a case of risks made visible. (There are those who believe all of this was fabricated – but as a person in the class ‘defenders’ with most other Americans this is hardly believed in the U.S.)

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