Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 2, 2014

On climate change, TSA medications, bitcoin, hackers, social media, cell phones and the future

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on September 2, 2014

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (interesting name) tries to bring rationality and evidence into a senate climate change debate this summer by using data to counter another senator’s alternative reality. But to no avail. The Senate did not take a position on the question of whether climate change threatens the nation.

Is TSA confiscating medications? The TSA News blog (which points out that it is not affiliated with TSA) describes confusion about how nitroglycerin pills and other medication is treated by screeners.

Big Think  goes against the mainstream bitcoin current and offers one man’s reasons why bit coin may be the best form of money we have ever seen.

Security Watch unscientifically surveyed some hackers trying to learn why they did what they did. Few of them hack for monetary reasons. Most do it because they are bored. Almost 90 percent of the hackers think their own personal information is at risk. As far as I could tell, no terrorists or state-sponsored hackers were included in the survey.

On the Homefront notes that DHS’ Science and Technology directorate is looking for  ideas about what the future might look like. The public is asked

to ponder and think of solutions to questions such as, “Based on what we know today, what do you think the homeland security environment will look like in 20 to 30 years? What challenges will DHS components, responders, and our other end users face? How should the homeland security community change in order to best respond to these challenges? What should S&T plan for now to ensure the nation is more resilient and secure in the future?”

Small Wars Journal  points readers to J.M. Berger’s list of “ten things you need to know about reporting on terrorists on social media.”  Number 7: Random people tweeting specific threats is not [ISIS] making specific threats against America.

Bruce Schneier worries about the unintended side effects of California’s mandatory cell phone kill switch law .

“The law raises concerns about how the switch might be used or abused, because it also provides law enforcement with the authority to use the feature to kill phones. And any feature accessible to consumers and law enforcement could be accessible to hackers, who might use it to randomly kill phones for kicks or revenge, or to perpetrators of crimes who might—depending on how the kill switch is implemented—be able to use it to prevent someone from calling for help.”

The Scientific American investigates how hot the 2014 US summer was. Was it hotter than average? Colder? About in the middle? The answer is . . . yes….

Apparently looking at temperatures for a single year doesn’t tell you much. According to the people at Scientific American the warming trend the U.S. Senate can’t agree about is only obvious when you look at lots of years, like 100: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/the-heat-is-on

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2 Comments »

Comment by John Comiskey

September 3, 2014 @ 3:44 am

What should TSA agents do about nitroglycerin pills, etc?

In an interesting scene of Ghostwriter, a talented ghost writer disillusioned/confused by seemingly excessive national security initiatives, is asked to assume that he plans to fly from London to NYC on either of two scheduled planes. Passengers on the first plane have been screened, searched, rescreened, and researched. Alternately, passengers on the second plane are allowed to board without being screened or searched.

The ghost writer is asked his preference? Which plane will he fly? Plane 1 or Plane 2?
See:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOxJ8Jwcbpc [the scene is not in this clip -you must watch the end of film]

What should TSA agents do when faced with so many potential threats most of which are seemingly innocuous bottles of water, meds, medical instruments, etc?

Is there a list of all-hazards?
Should TSA agents err on the side or caution?
Should they abandon all caution?
Is there a TSA security continuum?

Terrorist we know seek to:
(a) Identify our vulnerabilities
(b) Develop capabilities that leverage those vulnerabilities
Ultimately, terrorist hope to harm and terrorize us.

Our responses must match the threats with professionalism, perpetual vigilance, and civility.

TSA agents must be continuously trained, educated, and reminded that people are people that sometimes have special needs. Special needs and especially “unknown/not sure situations” procedures should emphasized in all levels of training. TSA agents must understand that positive public perception and positive public relations are critical to their mission.

Passengers and especially special needs passengers should be civil. They must cooperate with all reasonable TSA security measures. When TSA procedures seem unreasonable they should seek redress appropriately.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 3, 2014 @ 7:34 am

Climate Change seems beyond the ken of most members of Congress and their staffs.

What is inexcusable is the ignorance of Climate Change in the Executive Branch with no Climatologist employed in either FEMA or DHS that I know of. The Coast Guard?

I do know funding for a third USA icebreaker is not happening and both the existing ones laid up for repairs.

Farmers ALMANACK predicting a cold dry winter throughout most of USA!

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