Security at the Olympics

Good / Bad idea?


  • Total voters
    3
#1
Security at the Olympics

If you watched the Olympic games on television, you saw the unprecedented security surrounding the 2004 Olympics. You saw shots of guards and soldiers, and gunboats and frogmen patrolling the harbors. But there was a lot more security behind the scenes. Olympic press materials state that there was a system of 1,250 infrared and high-resolution surveillance cameras mounted on concrete poles. Additional surveillance data was collected from sensors on 12 patrol boats, 4000 vehicles, 9 helicopters, 4 mobile command centers, and a blimp. It wasn't only images; microphones collected conversations, speech-recognition software converted them to text, and then sophisticated pattern-matching software looked for suspicious patterns. 70,000 people were involved in Olympic security, about seven per athlete or one for every 76 spectators.

The Greek government reportedly spent $1.5 billion on security during the Olympics. But aside from the impressive-looking guards and statistics, was the money well-spent? In many ways, Olympic security is a harbinger of what life could be like in the U.S. If the Olympics are going to be a security test bed, it's worth exploring how well the security actually worked.

Unfortunately, that's not easy to do. We have press materials, but the security details remain secret. We know, for example, that SAIC developed the massive electronic surveillance system, but we have to take their word for it that it actually works. Now SAIC is no slouch; they were one of the contractors that built the NSA's ECHELON electronics eavesdropping system, and presumably have some tricks up their sleeves. But how well does it detect suspicious conversations or objects, and how often does it produce false alarms? We have no idea.

But while we can't examine the inner workings of Olympic security, we do have some glimpses of security in action.

A reporter from the Sunday Mirror, a newspaper in Britain, reported all sorts of problems with security. First, he got a job as a driver with a British contractor. He provided no references, underwent no formal interview or background check, and was immediately given access to the main stadium. He found that his van was never thoroughly searched, and that he could have brought in anything. He was able to plant three packages that were designed to look like bombs, all of which went undetected during security sweeps. He was able to get within 60 feet of dozens of heads of state during the opening ceremonies.

In a separate incident, a man wearing a tutu and clown shoes managed to climb a diving platform, dive into the water, and swim around for several minutes before officials pulled him out. He claimed that he wanted to send a message to his wife, but the name of an online gambling website printed on his chest implied a more commercial motive.

And on the last day of the Olympics, a Brazilian runner who was leading the men's marathon, with only a few miles to go, was shoved off the course into the crowd by a costumed intruder from Ireland. He ended up coming in third; his lead was narrowing before the incident, but it's impossible to tell how much it might have cost him.

These three incidents are anecdotal, but they illustrate an important point about security at this kind of event: it's pretty much impossible to stop a lone operator intent on making mischief. It doesn't matter how many cameras and listening devices you've installed. It doesn't matter how many badge checkers and gun-toting security personnel you've hired. It doesn't matter how many billions of dollars you've spent.

A lone gunman or a lone bomber can always find a crowd of people.

This is not to say that guards and cameras are useless, only that they have their limits. Money spent on them rapidly reaches the point of diminishing returns, and after that more is just wasteful.

Far more effective would have been to spend most of that $1.5 billion on intelligence and on emergency response. Intelligence is an invaluable tool against terrorism, and it works regardless of what the terrorists are plotting - even if the plots have nothing to do with the Olympics. Emergency response preparedness is no less valuable, and it too works regardless of what terrorists manage to pull off--before, during, or after the Olympics.

No major security incidents happened this year at the Olympics As a result, major security contractors will tout that result as proof that $1.5 billion was well-spent on security. What it really shows is how quickly $1.5 billion can be wasted on security. Now that the Olympics are over and everyone has gone home, the world will be no safer for spending all the money. That's a shame, because that $1.5 billion could have bought the world a lot of security if spent properly.

News articles:
<http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/08/10/...>
<http://www.elecdesign.com/Articles/ArticleID/8484/...>
<http://cryptome.org/nyt-athens.htm>
<http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/articles/2004/07/27/...>
<http://www.news24.com/News24/Olympics2004/...>

A version of this essay originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, during the Olympics:
<http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/25/...>
http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-0409.html


Too much of the security we see is security theater (a Schneier term). I've posted this article to see if anyone shares Bruce Schneier's view. I think the articles he writes make a lot of sense and economist magazine rate him highly. You can sumarise his idea as follows:-

*Openess improves security. (one example he uses is bank safes)
*Diversity
and
*Use of Insurance in the computer industry (In britian pressure by insurance firms have done much to improve car security)
 
#4
Guardian_Reader said:
Security at the Olympics

Olympic press materials state that there was a system of 1,250 infrared and high-resolution surveillance cameras mounted on concrete poles. Additional surveillance data was collected from sensors on 12 patrol boats, 4000 vehicles, 9 helicopters, 4 mobile command centers, and a blimp. It wasn't only images; microphones collected conversations, speech-recognition software converted them to text, and then sophisticated pattern-matching software looked for suspicious patterns.
The author is discussing a set-up in which every word you speak is intercepted, recorded, and electronically screened.

The question of how frequently the system flags conversations whose content is not really what the system operator is looking for (colloquial, rather than literal, references to a "bomb," for instance) is, it seems to me, a matter of secondary importance.

What's more important is that the surveilled society enjoys less privacy than inmates have recently enjoyed in a maximum security prison.

"Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig iron and the overfulfillment of the Ninth Three Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whethr you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everyone all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell.

That is the world into which our rulers wish to deliver us. They have made remarkable progress toward that end.

The question is: what are we going to do about it?
 
#5
Might have another go at expressing my ideas at somepoint, my post was a bit confused. :oops:

Clearly bad idea to post something in a rush.

I was trying to get Bruce Schneier's views to a wider audience, and find out what other people think of his ideas.
 
#6
I don't know anything about this Bruce Scheier, but if I had been that Brazilian runner, I would of been bouncing that kilt-wearing tw*t's head off the nearest of the " concrete poles" that those CCTV cameras were mounted on. :evil:

And on the last day of the Olympics, a Brazilian runner who was leading the men's marathon, with only a few miles to go, was shoved off the course into the crowd by a costumed intruder from Ireland. He ended up coming in third; his lead was narrowing before the incident, but it's impossible to tell how much it might have cost him.
 
#11
Alot of the military security (be it mainly for show or whatever) does have the bonus that it's relatively low cost. The personnel are being paid anyway, the kit is already bought. The main costs are fuel and the costs of mobilising a few thousand TA. Police costs are a bit different by the time you factor in overtime pay, etc.
 
#13
I always giggle at LRAD being called a weapon. It's a big loudspeaker. Perfect thing for communicating from ship to ship or passing information/warnings to large crowd but playing techno at a loud volume would have a much better detterent effect on people.

Well it almost worked here as a weapon of mass destruction .... Linky ... Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949) - IMDb ... but I really am showing my age .... fortunately Dick Barton stepped in and saved the country .
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#15
Having "attended" the Occupy London May 12th protest in a work capacity yesterday, I noticed that some of the speakers are saying that it's the cost of security that is dragging this country into recession, what with (and I quote their words here) "a fkin great warship based at Greenwich, Missile bases all over London inside peoples gardens (?) and squaddies rampaging all over London as though it's going to be a war zone".
 
#16
Bruce Schneier, a very good cryptography specialist, wrote a couple of common sense books then got Messiah Complex.

This guy is an IT Geek who believes that he and only he can see the bigger picture in any field that you can hang the word security.

Similar to Micheal Yon in many ways.
 
#19
2012 London Olymic Games = A little bit shit! NFI
Gov security responce = OTT
Conclusion = waste of money to take attention off Gov balls up's!
 
#20
Bruce Schneier, a very good cryptography specialist, wrote a couple of common sense books then got Messiah Complex.

This guy is an IT Geek who believes that he and only he can see the bigger picture in any field that you can hang the word security.
My sixth sense told me that you wanted to add: "But he should just shut the **** up about the Olympics".

Big fan of Bruce. But yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Someone should say to him: "Alrighty Brucey baby, seeing as you are the first and the last and the only word on anything security related, we present you a challenge - here is a t-shirt (black) with some big white lettering - it says: SECURITY. Now, your assignment shall be a nightclub, Liverpool, Saturday night, happy hour, re-generation area. We want you to spend an evening here, evaluate, and get back to us.

The soppy Twat is so full of himself he would probably be up for it.

Then, let us see how he feels about security in his next blogoramic post.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
15th May 2012 - Broadgreen Hospital.
Six broken ribs. Dis-lodged pelvis. Large scar on forehead. Lacerated buttock.
Ruptured right bollock. Terrible nightmares. Loss of self-confidence.

Not feeling too bad. Doing quite well, really. Lucky to be alive.
I feel that this was a journey I needed to make. That hour's experience was one I shall never
forget. Well, it wasn't quite an hour. My watch got broke in the incident and it would seem things
came to a head at 7 minutes 23. As we go through life we should never stop learning. If we do
we are as good as dead. Come to think of it, I was nearly dead. But not because I stopped learning.
Just because I am a cocky Twat who thinks he knows everything about SECURITY.
From now on I promise to change my ways, and my heart goes out to the boys on the frontline - those
that really do the big jobs in SECURITY. I am a humbled man.
Thankyou for all your support and well wishes in this trying time.
Doctors say I can leave in 8 weeks...........
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Anyway, the really sick thing is he might not even be wrong.
But if I was him, I wouldn't push my luck too far.

system of a down- prison song - YouTube