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back to article Pervy TOILET CAMERA disguised as 'flash drive' sparks BOMB SCARE on Boeing 767

Someone taped a camera disguised as a USB thumb-drive to the wall of the toilet in a Boeing 767 aircraft on a flight to New York from San Francisco and caused an emergency landing in Kansas City when it was discovered. According to KCTV, American Airlines cabin staff discovered or were alerted to the toilet's unwanted wall- …

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Ah yes, memory sticks.. those well known explosive devices....

Seriously, you couldn't fit enough C4 into one of those to light a match...

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..well, unless it was one of those old fashioned cigarette lighter shaped ones.... might make a little noise I suppose.

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No one remembering the self-destructing memory sticks El-Reg mentioned a while back?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/21/runcore_self_destructing_ssd/

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re: Seriously

Can't search at work but there was a silly news story pic of a maglite dropped on a road - which closed the freeway, bomb squad etc for "suspicious flashlight on freeway"

Needless to say it was also in the home of the brave

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Anonymous Coward

Could have been worse, he might have shat on the floor and left a pressure activated booby trap..

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Yeah ... I suppose it is a quantum ad which makes great sense to grand folk

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disguised?

disguised as USB stick?

yeah cos airplane toilets always have a usb stick taped to the walls

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Unhappy

You don't need a real bomb to scare people who are living in a constant state of paranoid hyper-awareness by being spoon fed worst case possibilities on a daily basis by politicians and the media.

In a horribly sad-funny commentary on modern Human civilization, people with very little to actually fear are far more strung out and subject to panic than people inside an actual war zone. We've created a situation where possibilities are more frightening than realities.

We've given terrorists and other unlikable sorts immense power by creating and nurturing an environment where neither threats of violence nor actual weapons are required to provoke a predefined defensive response among your enemy.

Forcing your opponent to respond to whispers and shadows to foment confusion and marginalize their resources by keeping them under constant stress is a time honored strategy, taught to first year students of such things. It's a strategy taught to novices as a thinking exercise because people don't fall for it anymore. Even at the height of the Cold War, US military commanders were very confused as to why they were able to dictate Soviet defense strategies and tactics. It was such an elementary mistake they thought it was a trick. No modern military had fallen for that on a national scale in hundreds of years. But it wasn't a trick. The Soviets were doing exactly what we're doing right now. Running at 95% of Full Panic Speed and burning through financial resources almost as fast as we did during WWII.

It's ultimately a negative sum equation we can never succeed at. Our tormentors have no resources to expend or budgets to manage. They satisfy their tactical requirements every time an old lady or child is throughly searched or an aircraft is forced to land because somebody found a USB drive. You can fight a war like that indefinitely, it costs nothing. Your opponents costs will escalate in perpetuity as every action they take increases the level of fear which can only be assuaged by taking ever more expensive and intrusive actions.

It's a classic Catch-22 situation and anyone even remotely familiar with military strategy or organizational leadership knows the very first thing you do when you've identified you're in a Catch-22 situation is to remove yourself from the situation. You never, ever remain in, or operate in, a situation that cannot be won. You change the terms of the situation and attack it from a position where you dictate the rules and there's at least a definable goal by which to measure success. What we're doing now has no end, it doesn't even have a definable goal. It's horridly stupid and very dangerous. Far more dangerous than a terrorist.

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Anonymous Coward

DonChief

> In a horribly sad-funny commentary on modern Human civilization, people with very little to actually fear are far more strung out and subject to panic than people inside an actual war zone

Having grown up and subsequently spent part of my adult life on those, I cannot begin to tell you how right you are.

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Was it placed there by

2 Bad Mice?

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Re: Was it placed there by

Hold It Down, mate.

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Is it possible that it was the Sneakernet form of Skynet?

I'll get my coat.

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This is a clear case of a 42GB memory stick being illegally converted into a 42DD mammary stick with optional encraption (altough I'd go for plane text if I were you).

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Coat

It wasn't terrorists...

...so it must have been a paedophile; they're the only two types of criminal.

I'll have to do without my coat - there's been a bomb scare in the cloak room.

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Re: It wasn't terrorists...

Absolutely right there. There were almost certainly some children on the flight, and they would use the toilet, and the camera would snap inappropriate pictures of them, meaning the perpetrator would be guilty of child porn offences.

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Paris Hilton

Re: It wasn't terrorists...

Very lucky that bomb scare in the cloakroom.... terrorists stopping people walking around with strange looking trenchcoats. What is the world coming to?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It wasn't terrorists...

> meaning the perpetrator would be guilty of child porn offences.

Erm... Pictures of nude children in itself do not amount to child porn¹. There are probably a number of other laws that this likely violates, but not child porn ones.

¹ Unless you live in an ultra-overreacting, risk-averse, fanatically conservative society. And I do not wish to name names.

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NSA

Don't panic. The National Sanitary Agency is stepping up surveillance ... in an attempt to catch leakers and whistle blowers.

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Joke

Re: NSA

Eh? You mean some people blow whistles when they, err, go? Or is there a strange anatomical condition I wasn't aware of?

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Re: NSA

Or maybe the TSA? (Obligatory South Park reference, plus we're all sitting on it the wrong way)

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Re: NSA

I assume that "whistle blowing" in this context is a euphemism.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NSA

Says who? Flo Rida?

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This post has been deleted by its author

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More training needed?

What's nuts for this is that people think that something very, very small can blow up an airliner. Anybody remember the anthrax mailings? People were freaking out about dust on the shelves.

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Coat

Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Anything is possible !

But to be honest, I'd have been more worried if it had been taped to a window.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Interesting question. How big an explosion would a piece of C4 of the size of a average USB stick create. Enough to puncture a pressurised airframe?

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Re: More training needed?

This is exactly the state that the Governments want the people to be in - a constant state of fear....

The bible bashers did it for long enough and it seemed to work for them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

" How big an explosion would a piece of C4 of the size of a average USB stick create. Enough to puncture a pressurised airframe?"

Depends how it is applied. Consider that a USB stick has the volume of a couple of side arm gun cartridges, and C4 is probably somewhat more powerful than a firearm propellant, so the energy of perhaps three to five small arm rounds, each of which could punch a hole in the aircraft skin. Fag packet calculations based on energy density of historic explosives like RDX or PETN suggest we're talking about something of the order of 90 kJ.

So it could puncture the aircraft skin or a window in close proximity, probably would have to be very carefully positioned to cause serious damage to the airframe. From my thoroughly inexpert point of view, that is.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Given a hypothetical bomb that size, who says the objective has to be depressurization?

Even if it "only" managed to kill one person, do you really think the rational action afterwards would be to fly on to the scheduled destination? Especially since the crew wouldn't know if that was the only device on the plane.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

C4 or RDX in a flash-drive? Phooey!

Now if you really want to put a hole in an airliner, tape a laptop battery to the skin - or one of the load-bearing members...

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Avoid the explosive route and go with thermite, it may not burn for long at that size, but it could be long enough to burn through the floor of the cabin and enter a luggage compartment (assuming it misses any wiring or hydraulic lines) - or just start in the overhead lockers, plenty of clothes/duty free gin there.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

The BBC had a good documentary about the history of explosives. At one point, a wizened, wiry old boy was demonstrating plastic explosive. He placed a small amount of plastic explosive into a conical container, held a couple of inches above the 'target' ( a two-foot thick steel billet) by three little legs. Upon detonation, it punched a coin-sized hole through the steel billet. It was a powerful demonstration.

He explained that the explosive made the copper liner form a hypersonic jet (upwards of 7 KM per second) that penetrated steel as if it were a liquid.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaped_charge#Function

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

That's a self forming fragment. You still need a fair bit of explosives to get this done... At least much more than I can get in any of my USB sticks. A cubic inch would still blow a hole through a window, but if you are into terror, cover it in steel shot and make a mini nailbomb...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

@ Enough to puncture a pressurised airframe?

asking such specific question, clearly identifies you as a TERRORIST, no less. The appropriate authorities (the specifics are classified based on the need-to-know regulations), shall apprehend you before your next flight having matched your nervous smirk / grin with the database profile.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

If the USB spy cam was like this one, then there really isn't a lot of volume there.

I'm not an explosives expert, but I think that C4 requires a detonator stick of some sort, i.e., a blasting cap to set it off properly. Doesn't it just burn otherwise?

So you'd have to have a tiny blasting cap, that might actually not do the job, and some HE, all in a very tiny space. Now, just taping it to the wall in the loo would only make it a noisy firecracker. Sure, it would cause the plane to land, but I doubt it would cause any injury. Perhaps it would cure constipation, though.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

The old boy in the BBC documentary turns out to be a gentleman called Dr Sidney Alford. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Alford

Turns out he has a website for anyone needing to make a hole in something in a hurry. Website is probably a good way to bring yourself to some agency's attention:

http://www.explosives.net/Home.aspx

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

You can cause the plane to land by scribbling something in Arabic (it was part of a prayer, apparently) in the margin of a copy of the in-flight magazine. No explosives needed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Two foot thick?

I am unconvinced. Doesn't matter how fast the copper slug is travelling, enough energy has to be supplied to break the bonds between the iron atoms, which are metallic. I simply don't think there is that much energy in a "small" amount of plastic explosive. Bazooka rounds couldn't penetrate a Tiger, and the armour on that was nothing like 2ft thick.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Yeh, but don't the major airports already sniff and scan for such explosives? I know that I've been through puffer/sniffer machines, the kind that search for airborne evidence of the minutest giveaway sizing.

I've been for about 8 years not suspicous that these scanners hold on to scan photos of objects for some amount of time. Hoaxes and real acts of terror would be more frightening if the authorities lazily, intentionally, or carelessly OPTED OUT of short-term storage of passengers' personal effects in the carry-on as well as the check-in.

Actually, live-scanning and photo capturing of all flown goods would probably help put a dent in theft of passenger goods, especially if some enterprising company would come up with tamper-evident seals or cords that require special procedures to open FOR inspection, not bust into, reseal, then apologize for rummaged contents.

Maybe the TSA or the airport unions nixed the options? Can't set up a de facto incrimination that baggage handlers ALL from time to time pilfer from luggage.

But, if the scans DO contain images of all luggage and carryon passed through the scanners, then it'll narrow down the questioning to JUST those people who walked into the scanner and who were within 3-5 people of the objects compared to and matching the prank or act evidence.

Is that too much to expect, or ask for? After all, we taxpayers have spent probablly a few trillion on funding the DHLS, TSA, and other letters. Oh, wait... Most of it probably went to labor, not real, useful tech, except that which snapped organs shots...

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Flame

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Maybe. It depends on the state of the art of the scanners. My brother went through the checkpoint in Frankfurt on his way to Atlanta several years ago with quite a bit of sodium azide in the cuffs of his pants (from installing the machine that packs airbags for an auto-maker) and it didn't set anything off. He didn't find it until he was doing laundry at home.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

That, my lad, was a shaped charge, which was designed to direct the explosive energy at a specific target. A USB stick is a different form factor, and unless the "stick" was specially engineered, would pretty much result in an explosion into the compartment rather than directed into the bulk head.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

The plastic explosive which downed PanAm flight 103 was supposedly about the size of a matchbox.

Aircraft are pressurised at about 5-7psi. All it takes is to split the hull and air pressure, plus the 600mph breeze outside will do the rest.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

"Consider that a USB stick has the volume of a couple of side arm gun cartridges"

Just how old are your flashdrives, anyway?

Anyway, you do know that aircraft are perfectly capable of flying with holes in them? "would have to be very carefully positioned to cause serious damage to the airframe" is correct.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

"The old boy in the BBC documentary turns out to be a gentleman called Dr Sidney Alford."

Yes, that's him. I just saw him on an episode of Kevin McClouds Man Made Home. They cut a Russian sea mine in half at a jaunty angle by wrapping a length of explosive "tape" around it (to make a BBQ). The mine was about 1" thick steel and and it was a lovely clean cut.

I'd estimate the "tape" was maybe 1/2" thick and an inch wide from what I could see of it. A " section of that would be about the size of some of the larger pendrives. You still need a detonator and something to trigger it though.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

"Yeh, but don't the major airports already sniff and scan for such explosives? I know that I've been through puffer/sniffer machines, the kind that search for airborne evidence of the minutest giveaway sizing."

I can't say I've ever looked in to it, but I've always kind of assumed that these things are a bit of a hoax; designed more as a scary deterrence than actually as functional as they claim. Similar to how sniffer dogs actually have a very poor success rate (very high false-positive rate) but are still used in most airports.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Puncture? Almost certainly yes, if taped to the skin of the airframe itself. On the inner plastic skin, I doubt it. Further away, no chance. It's also unlikely that a small hole could bring down an airliner.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

All it takes is to split the hull and air pressure, plus the 600mph breeze outside will do the rest.

Contradictory datapoint: the Aloha airlines "open-top 737" incident.

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Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

The sniffer dogs are to make you feel uncomfortable if you are doing something wrong, the guy holding the leash is then supposed to spot people looking uncomfortable and ask leading questions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More training needed?

> People were freaking out about dust on the shelves.

That would be my ex.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Haven't you seen Fringe ?

> Haven't you seen Fringe ?

Should I assume that is a TV show, or a film?

> Anything is possible !

Yes, in Hollywood.

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