I don't know. FireEye likes to attribute all sorts of things to Russia, but the evidence here looks pretty good.
Entries Tagged “Saudi Arabia”
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The New York Times writes:
Despite the increased scrutiny of people and luggage on passenger planes since 9/11, there are far fewer safeguards for packages and bundles, particularly when loaded on cargo-only planes.
Well, of course. We've always known this. We've not worried about terrorism on cargo planes because it isn't very terrorizing. Packages aren't people. If a passenger plane blows up, it affects a couple of hundred people. If a cargo plane blows up, it just affects the crew.
Cargo that is loaded on to passenger planes should be subjected to the same level of security as passenger luggage. Cargo that is loaded onto cargo planes should be treated no differently from cargo loaded into ships, trains, trucks, and the trunks of cars.
Of course: now that the media is talking about cargo security, we have to "do something." (Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do it.) But if we're so scared that we have to devote resources to this kind of terrorist threat, we've well and truly lost.
EDITED TO ADD (10/30): The plot -- it's still unclear how serious it was -- wasn't uncovered by any security screening, but by intelligence gathering:
Intelligence officials were onto the suspected plot for days, officials said. The packages in England and Dubai were discovered after Saudi Arabian intelligence picked up information related to Yemen and passed it on to the U.S., two officials said.
This is how you fight through terrorism: not by defending against specific threats, but through intelligence, investigation, and emergency response.
Nobody tell the TSA, but last month someone tried to assassinate a Saudi prince by exploding a bomb stuffed in his rectum. He pretended to be a repentant militant, when in fact he was a Trojan horse:
The resulting explosion ripped al-Asiri to shreds but only lightly injured the shocked prince -- the target of al-Asiri's unsuccessful assassination attempt.
For years, I have made the joke about Richard Reid: "Just be glad that he wasn't the underwear bomber." Now, sadly, we have an example of one.
Lewis Page, an "improvised-device disposal operator tasked in support of the UK mainland police from 2001-2004," pointed out that this isn't much of a threat for three reasons: 1) you can't stuff a lot of explosives into a body cavity, 2) detonation is, um, problematic, and 3) the human body can stifle an explosion pretty effectively (think of someone throwing himself on a grenade to save his friends).
But who ever accused the TSA of being rational?
The first two affected India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The third one is between the UAE and Oman. The fourth one connected Qatar and the UAE. This one may not have been cut, but taken offline due to power issues.
The first three have been blamed on ships' anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that's two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf.
There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): The International Herald Tribune has more. And a comment below questions whether Iran being offline has anything to do with this.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): A fifth cut? What the hell is going on out there?
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): More commentary from Steve Bellovin.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): Just to be clear: Iran is not offline. That was an untrue rumor; it was never true.
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Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.