[funsec] Fun with (In)Security

Paul Schmehl pauls at utdallas.edu
Sat Jan 28 14:55:40 CST 2006

--On January 28, 2006 1:41:53 PM +0000 Drsolly <drsollyp at drsolly.com> wrote:

> On Fri, 27 Jan 2006, Fergie wrote:
>> Yeah, I saw that last night. :-)
>> All that smoke... but I digress.
>> What I meant to say is,given how porous the U.S. borders are, it
>> makes one wonder just how serious they really are on the 'war on
>> terror'.
> I've never really understood why people conflate "war on terror" with "US
> porous borders". I can only think of two major (or minor, come to that)
> terrorist attacks on the USA in the last decade or so, and they didn't
> come from either Mexico or Canada.
The big fear is terrorists entering the country from Mexico or Canada with 
suitcase nukes.  From what I've read, suitcase nukes are a fantasy.  The 
amount of nuclear material that could be carried in a suitcase, with an 
explosive mechanism, is negligible and the half-life of the radioactive 
material makes them worthless in a relatively short period of time.

But that doesn't stop people from freaking out over the idea.

> Of the two major attacks I can think of, one came from a home-grown
> nutter  (Oklahoma) and the other flew in legally via scheduled airlines.
> The  anthrax stuff is unproven, but seems to be generally thought to be
> of  US origin.
You're assuming rationality enters into the picture when people are worried 
about bogey men.

I don't mean to minimize the threat.  There are definitely bad men who want 
to sneak into the country and kill a lot of people (as London unfortunately 
learned), and we need to find rational and efficient ways of stopping them 
before they strike.  But irrational fears about fantastic weapons that 
don't really exist only serve to enrich lobbyists and politicians at our 

Paul Schmehl (pauls at utdallas.edu)
Adjunct Information Security Officer
University of Texas at Dallas
AVIEN Founding Member

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