I came across this article today and really found it noteworthy:
Original title: Why Airport Security Is Broken—And How To Fix It
Kip Hawley, TSA head from July 2005 to January 2009, writes about how the current TSA procedures came into being, how he failed at some of his goals (to make the checks less annoying) during his involvement and what could be done to fix procedures. I especially liked these points:
By the time of my arrival, the agency was focused almost entirely on finding prohibited items. Constant positive reinforcement on finding items like lighters had turned our checkpoint operations into an Easter-egg hunt. When we ran a test, putting dummy bomb components near lighters in bags at checkpoints, officers caught the lighters, not the bomb parts.
(also quoted on LWN.net)
And this one:
The public wants the airport experience to be predictable, hassle-free and airtight and for it to keep us 100% safe. But 100% safety is unattainable.
I think the most important thing he mentioned is the fifth and last of his action items to improve both experience by passengers and security:
5. Randomize security: Predictability is deadly. Banned-item lists, rigid protocols—if terrorists know what to expect at the airport, they have a greater chance of evading our system.
He got it nailed there, in my opinion: If security measures are predictable, the loopholes in it are also predictable, so you basically give attackers a handbook of what to avoid when planning the attack. This, by the way isn’t limited to physical security and air travel, but also applies to IT security (though it is much easier to hide your IT security measures and make them somewhat unpredictable that way, then it is to do so with physical security and passenger screening on airports.