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<nettime> carnival booth demystified
nettime's_roving_reporter on Thu, 21 Aug 2003 04:29:50 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> carnival booth demystified


     [via <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>]

 < http://www.dontspyon.us/carnival.html >

Why CAPPS II Makes Flying MORE Dangerous

   Researchers at MIT recently published a highly technical research
   paper[1] that demonstrates why CAPPS II actually makes flying more
   dangerous, not less.  As Old Ben Franklin does not have a Ph.D. in
   quantum mathematics, he turned to Russell L. Brand, a fine American
   and Computer Security Theorist, to explain what this research paper
   means in Plain English.

[1] http://www.swiss.ai.mit.edu/6805/student-papers/spring02-papers/caps.htm

   A Lay Explanation of the MIT Research Paper "Carnival Booth: An
   Algorithm for Defeating the Computer-Assisted Passenger Screening
   System"

   By Russell L. Brand.

   Imagine a world where you knew who all the terrorists were in
   advance.  It is a much simpler world than the one we have.  There
   would be no waiting in airport security lines.

   While we don't have that, some people think we are in a world where we
   know who the terrorists ARE NOT.  And in that world, we can avoid
   searching the people we know are safe and devote all (or most of) our
   effort just to the people were aren't sure of.  It sounds good.  Some
   of us avoid being hassled and the system moves faster for everyone.

   BUT...

   What if we are occasionally wrong?  Just a few of these SEEMINGLY SAFE
   people are really terrorists.  They'd slip by with us good upstanding
   citizens.

   And what if the terrorist organizations sent all their folks on a few
   test trips?  After a few trips, they would know which ones got
   searched each time and which ones never got searched.  Then they would
   use the ones that had never gotten searched on their mission, knowing
   that these SEEMINGLY SAFE people (who were really terrorists) could
   more easily get onto the planes.

   Unfortunately, the efforts to target our searching attention, rather
   than better protecting us and more efficiently using our resources,
   instead telegraphs what we know and allows the bad guys to have a
   better chance of out maneuvering us.

   While the intuition of this is easy to understand, it took a team of
   leading mathematicians at MIT to prove that it is true and to show
   that their are no simple fixes to the targeted approach.  And the
   implications of their findings cannot be ignored.

   It is critically important to not let a terrorist know whether or not
   he is a suspect until the moment we capture him.  And unfortunately,
   that means long lines for us all.

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