Day by Day

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just a Thought on Security

This passing thought occurred to me the other day.. Are we TOO secure?

Now, before you start ranting back with, "No, you fool! Don't you know the _____ are about to attack us ANY minute?! They could even already be here," let me explain.

At work, there's a sign listing our various threat conditions. There's FPCON ALPHA, THREATCON ORANGE, INFO ALERT LEVEL ONE, and HOMELAND SECURITY LEVEL ELEVATED.

I'm sure up at the Pentagon, there's still the DefCon.

And who knows what other threat scales are out there.

To send an email (once I've already logged on to our super-secure system, though the level of its neediness leads me to believe that it's a super-insecure system) requires THREE separate security checks. And that's just to forward the latest ha-ha that someone else sent to me.

To get onto base, we have very diligent guards carefully checking each ID. But, I also saw some Jehovah's Witnesses seeking some converts (even on a military base, I guess it never hurts to try to make a convert or two), so how tight can it be, even after the Fort Dix incident (and others I won't discuss here)?

Part of the problem is that there are so many threat scales. Is a condition of "Three" good or bad? Well, if it's on a scale of one to four, maybe not, but who's to say the scale doesn't go to twenty? Usually just the current status is displayed, not the whole scale. And is a "One" high or low?

If someone ran into the office saying, "They've just upped the InfoCon level to Bravo!" what do I do? Should I start burning important documents or maybe just not surf to the website? Oh my!

Is Orange a good color or a bad one? And we've been at it for so long... What are the other colors like? I think a nice paisley alert level could be fun.

Oh, and when you fly (wait for it... I'm not going to go into the charade that we call Screening Security )... Want to amuse yourself? Often posted on clip-on signs above the "Wait-Here-in-This-Ridicuously-Long-Line-That-Has-Osama-Laughing-As-We-Pat-Down-Elderly-Wheelchairbound-Ladies" meandering maze of belts, you'll find warnings. Warnings! You may be flying out of Podunk International Airport, but the Director of Homeland Security, and the TSA, would blike to warn you that the airport in Kuala Lampur does not meet their standards of security.

Oh my! I quickly will point this out to the one hundred and fifty people behind me in line, in case their plans had them going there. Of course, it's more likely that they're going to another US airport, which recent news reports say have security that does NOT meet the standards of the Director of Homeland Security, and the TSA. (For those who aren't familiar, recent tests of security showed that the lil' ol' ladies, and possibly others from their bridge(bombing) clubs, were able to smuggle plenty of suspicious bomb parts past our crack security forces. And we worry about Kuala Lampur.)

Ok, so what's my point?

We, as a whole, make a big show about doing SOMETHING for security, but in the process, we end up doing nothing.

You can imagine the meetings, can't you? The Commander or Director goes around the table and asks, "In two weeks, I want to know what your departments are doing about security."

And two weeks later, they all come back. "Sir, we've instituted this Five-Level scale to let us know what our threat level is!" "Excellent work, Smith!"

And lo and behold, not to be out-done, the others ALSO develop scales in their departments. "Sir! Our scale is more nuanced... It has Six levels." "Ours uses colors so people can easily understand the threat.." (Because if there's anything more confusing than colors, it's the numbers one through five or the letters of the alphabet!)

So, we have all these systems to show just how hard we're working on security. Just like standing in that long line at the airport, it's a big show.

No one truly seems to understand our threats (pretty colors and letters aside) because we've become too focused on the show instead of the substance.

Let's put and end to this nonsense. Either we can ditch all this acting and admit what the enemy already knows (and deep down, so do we) - that it's a show OR we can come up with a coherent approach and really be serious about our security.

Otherwise, we're just inevitably making it easier for them by tangling ourselves in multicolored knots.

1 comment:

Mary*Ann said...

Rather like crying wolf once too often.