Schneier Takes on Idiot Security Once Again


Bruce Schneier is a security guru. Though much of his focus is related to computer/online security, he will dabble in the world of 07_12_18 schneierair travel from time to time. If you haven’t gone to his website, I would highly recommend doing so to experience the awesomeness of his powers.

Last week, he took on something I briefly noted in my trip report back from London in October. I called it the “strange, random, post-security shoe inspection” that we had to go through after main security in Terminal 3. Schneier rightly pokes holes in what a stupid idea this is.

The setup is that you go through security as usual, but then afterwards you pull your shoes off and put them through a special shoe scanning x-ray. How to beat it if you want to do bad things? Well, bring two pairs of shoes: one clean and one evil and dirty. Walk through the first checkpoint with the dirty shoes on and the clean ones in your bag so they make it through the x-ray. Then, switch them. Put the clean ones through the shoe x-ray while keeping the dirty ones in your already-scanned bag.

Could it be any easier? Think of how many people are inconvenienced by something like this every single day, and then think about how completely useless it is. I know this is UK security, but it sounds like something the TSA would think up as well. Anyone else want to start a campaign to make Bruce Schneier the head of the TSA?

3 comments on “Schneier Takes on Idiot Security Once Again

  1. What would stop the dirty shoes being picked up on when being scanned inside the bag? Or are the bag/shoe scanners looking for different things?

  2. Since it’s a two step process, the dirty shoes would never be scanned. Assuming they don’t have metal in them, you can walk through the metal detector wearing those shoes while your bag with the clean shoes goes through the x-ray.

    After that, you’re supposed to take your shoes off and put them through a separate x-ray machine. Instead, you can put those shoes into your carry on bag and then pull out the clean shoes and run those through the x-ray. Since the bag has already gone through the x-ray before, those shoes will never get scanned.

  3. huh weird that they would do these things individually, shoes and bag should go through the one x-ray together!
    Thanks for the reply.

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Cranky Flier