Travelling with a !!!Bang!!!

A very old joke:

20,000 people are watching a bullfight when some miscreant tosses a bomb into the ring. Immediately, a young and curious bull stops chasing matadors round the ring, goes over and sniffs it, then swallows it. 20,000 voices are raised as one: ‘Abominable!’

OK, an IT connection. Before I went over to the Dark Side  joined the AV industry I worked in medical informatics, albeit with a security bias – in fact, I learned most of what little I know about malware during that period. At one time I worked with a lecturer at the Royal Free Hospital who used to talk about probability using an example rather like this one: if the probability of someone carrying a bomb on a plane is .001, then the chance of two people carrying a bomb on the same plane is .000001.  Therefore, the safest way to travel by air is by taking your own bomb with you. I always thought that it was just an amusing way of illustrating the Gambler’s Fallacy.

Apparently, though, the TSA is finding a regular stream of people apparently subscribing to the same fallacy. At any rate,it has felt obliged to tell people not to take hand-grenades in their checked or hand luggage, after 83 people have attempted to bring a grenade (smoke, riot, flash bang or riot) or – more commonly – something resembling one (inert grenades, replicas, novelty items) on board with them.

Folks, it doesn’t affect the chances of there being another explosive device on the plane. Honestly, it doesn’t. And even something that looks like a bomb of some sort (or a gun, or cartridges, or whatever) will set off a security alert that will make your fellow passengers more likely to explode.

The prize for absent-mindedness, though, goes to the guy who absent-mindedly (nearly) took a live 40mm HE grenade on board with him. That’s the last time I fly in or out of Dallas/Fort Worth.

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow

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