Saturday, June 30, 2012

TRAVEL SECURITY WARNING: Upgrade for TSA Approved locks could enhance ones personal security while travelling.

Bryan Black over at ITS Tactical just posted a video regarding TSA Approved locks in the sites Physical Security Section regarding TSA Approved locks and how your luggage regardless of a locking device can be penetrated with something as simple as a pen.

For those who do not know what TSA locks are they are essentially regular luggage locks with a key bypass. The TSA is allowed to open and search air passengers' luggage for security screening in the U.S They are also allowed to cut open, destroy, or otherwise disable locks during a search these locks permit the TSA to open the luggage without breaking the lock. However as Bryan will point out in the attached article the lock is feel good security as a simple pen can bypass the zipper. 

Enter Bryan and ITS Tactical:

We’re presenting a security announcement today surrounding the protection of your valuables while traveling. The technique of using a ballpoint pen to open any luggage utilizing a zipper, is one that’s been publicly disclosed for some time now.

There are unfortunately many that aren’t aware of this risk, or that it leaves no tell-tale sign that the suitcase has even been tampered with. As you’ll see below in our video demonstration, by simply shoving a ballpoint pen into the zipper track, you can pull the suitcase lid open and access the interior contents. Then with a simple movement of a still-locked zipper slider you can reseal the suitcase without leaving evidence of tampering.

We also offer some suggestions in this article on what you can do to further secure your luggage while traveling, both physical items that afford you extra security and knowledge that will help you the next time you travel.

Travel Security Caveats

The fact of the matter remains that any suitcase, luggage or pack that utilizes a zipper is susceptible to this attack. There are some ideas we’d like to present here that will at least either secure the interior contents of your suitcase or provide evidence that your belongings have been tampered with.
Before getting into that, know that there’s no perfect method to protect a suitcase that’s out of your direct control. Once you turn over your luggage to the airline, there’s always a risk of never getting it back. Luggage gets “lost” all time, never to be reunited with its owner. Knowing this, we hope that you always decide to keep your valuables and irreplaceable items in a carry-on that’s always in your control.
Something else to be cognizant of is continuing to watch the overhead bin you’ve just put your carry-on into until the flight attendant shuts it. We’ve heard horror stories of someones carry-on being ripped off right on the airplane by another passenger on their way to their seat. They simply move the carry-on to the overhead bin near their seat and leave the plane with your bag before you even know it’s gone.

Increasing Your Odds

Security as a whole is only to either buy you time, or visually and physically harden what you intend to secure. That being said, the options we’re presenting here are just that. Either options to buy you the time to inconvenience a would-be thief, or make them disregard your belongings as a target.


The first item you can use to secure valuables inside your suitcase is a Pacsafe, which is steel cable webbing that surrounds bulky contents with a lockable drawstring. To utilize this, you’ll need to have a luggage frame to route the cable around. Most suitcases with collapsible handles have this underneath the liner. If you don’t have a liner you can unzip to access these struts, you may have to make cuts to feed a cable through.
These Pacsafes are also great for using once you get to your destination. You can put a bag or other contents in them and lock it to a bed frame in a hotel room when you have to leave. While anyone with bolt cutters or lock picks can get into them easily, just remember its intended purpose. To either buy you time or visually and physically harden.

In-Car Gun Lockers

Another option for your valuables are In-Car Gun Lockers from Center of Mass. These lockers have so many applications and can be utilized for everything from suitcases to vehicles for storage of valuables and handguns. These also feature a steel cable that can be girth hitched around the struts in your suitcase or even to the frame of the seat in your vehicle.
Travel Security 02TSA requires a locked case inside of your suitcase for transportation of a firearm when traveling and these In-Car Gun Lockers are perfect for this. Again, is this a completely full proof method? No, but here’s the broken record… It’s to buy you time or visually and physically harden. These lockers can also be keyed alike when purchased, or come in a combination lock configuration, which is less pick-resistant than the double-sided key required to open the keyed lockers.
One last benefit of these are that you can keep a handgun securely stored in a vehicle with an In-Car Gun Locker while visiting establishments that don’t allow concealed carry. Examples of these are federal buildings, post offices and private property with properly posted signage.

Hard Cases

Probably the most costly option today is to travel with a heavy hard case like a Pelican Case. This will surely add to the weight of your belonging and tip you into the “overweight” category with the airlines. If cost isn’t an issue with what your traveling with, this may be the best option, as you can securely lock Pelican Cases with multiple locks.
Just remember padlocks can always be shimmed or picked open and relocked without leaving tell-tale signs.

Anti-Theft Luggage Zipper Strap

While a misnomer, the Anti-Theft Luggage Zipper Strap won’t prevent theft, but it will give you a visual indication of tampering. This inexpensive option simply prevents a would-be thief from re-closing your suitcase after they’ve gotten into it by opening the zipper track with a pen. This will obviously give you the indication of a break-in, but also won’t allow them to re-close it.
This can be a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good in the sense that it will tell you if someone has tampered with your suitcase, but by not allowing the thief or the airline to re-close it you could be setting yourself up for lost contents or worse, your suitcase never arriving.

Shipping Your Suitcase

One last option is to ship your suitcase. While you’re still susceptible here as you are with the airlines, there’s another degree of security you’re afforded by having your suitcase in an nondescript cardboard box.
Just like with the airlines, loss and theft still run rampant and there’s also the hassle of setting up a destination to ship your luggage to.

Edged Weapons of the Second World War

One thing the Second World War was great for was the invention of edged weapons. Some of my personal favourite edged weapons came out of WW2. This article is going to cover a small handful of such weapons. In fact two of the biggest names in knife fighting William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes got their break because of such weapons.

During the second world war these lads and their system trained thousand of clandestine operatives from the USA, Canada, Great Britian and France in hand to hand and edged weapon combat. They also invented a fantastic little knife appropriately named the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife.

A double edged dagger the philosophy behind the F-S Fighting Knife was to surprise the opponent. The Slender blade profile was meant to penetrate the ribcage and pierce throug bone wth ease. The philosophy is furthur explained by this excerpt from Fairbairns own book.

"In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die."

Included in the training system was the study of anatomy and target areas. A spreadsheet was drafted up showing the effectiveness of key striking points and the speed each point rendered death.

According to some old training pictures I found the primary deployments include the slashing at the arm in the vicinity of the elbow or rakeing down the arm toward the wrist in response to an opponent grabbing you, thrusting into the neck aiming for the common carotid artery and thrusting straight down into the area near the shoulder.

the F/S Fighting Knife remained in service for many years and today an original dagger makes for a fine edition to a collection. Modern working replicas are available though mileage will vary based on manufacturer.

A similar double edged dagger saw service with the unit that would become the precursor to all modern special operations forces in North America the joint Canadian-American unit the First Special Service Force, The blade developed by FSSF Officers became known as the V-42 Stiletto.

Developed primarily by Col Robert T Frederick of the FSSF who seeked a fighting knife that could silently eliminate enemy soldiers as well as perform the role of close-quarters combat. The V-42 was based off of features from the F-S fighting knife. Key differences from the F-S included a thinner stiletto blade which allowed optimized penetration. It is documented that the V-42 could easily penetrate an Issued US helmet with ease. An addition to the blade was a pommell on the hilt of the blade capable of caving in a foes skull. The thumb groove on the V-42 was designed to promote a flat grip with the thumb over the crossguard, which positioned the double-edged blade horizontally allowing smooth entry between ribs.

The sheath was abnormally long in design to incorporate the use of a cold weather parka due to the forces original training being based around winter operations.

Today the knife can be found on the crests of JTF-2 and the US Army Special Forces. Canada and the USA's premiere special operations forces.

alongside the use of fighting knives the second world war saw several unique E&E and last ditch knives one of which was the OSS thumb dagger seen in this photo alongsde a OSS sleeve dagger.

The concept behind the thumb dagger was to give an OSS Spy a last ditch knife to escape captivity with. The blade was typically sewn into a part of the agents clothing that would not be felt throughly during a frisk search. The concept of the thumb daggers deployment as a weapon was about about quickly enducing "psychological shock"  into the foe quickly to eliminate the odds of the opponent chasing you. One of the key moves to do that was stabbing the foe in the eyeball and slash at the throat.

Primarly though the knife was used as a tool to escape captivity, cut through rope it was not exactly intended as a fighting knife. The OSS/SOE developed a plethora of unnique E&E knives.

Two unoffical copies of the thumb dagger exist today the Mantis MU-3 and the 888 Professional S.O.L

All in all I could write on WW2 blades forever and even just focusing on OSS/SOE knifes would eat up a lot of time but this is just to serve as a taste of the edged weapons of the Second World War.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

EDC: Maintenance.

I had read a post on another blog that made reference to an anecdotal story about asking an Air Force Maintenance Chief about airplanes. The Chief had this little piece of wisdom to share "A plane is like being in love with a crazy woman. If you don't keep your eye on her and love her she'll either mess around on you or kill you." when asked about what caused most planes to crash "Now either the Pilot making a bad call on the weather or lack of good maintenance....somebody starts cutting corners and lives are lost."

Poor maintenance leads to poor performance. For the "EDCer" or Security Professional I advise a weekly ritual for gear inspection. Clean your kit, inspect for damage, perform function checks and then pack everything back where you found it. This will be from the perspective of a Security Professional so some items will not apply to a Civilian EDC.

Things to consider bare in mind your equipment list may vary depending on personal kit and or position of employment. adjust accordingly.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional smith, nor am I a metallurgist, nor am I certified to perform maintenance on these devices by any reputable source. Do your due diligence to ensure that any suggested methods will not damage your equipment also be sure you know HOW to do this safely and properly.

Pocket Knife:

Take the knife and do a function check. Ensure the blade flicks open and locks nice and firmly. check for blade wobble, Inspect for rust or damage, clean and lubricate pivot points if needed, tighten pivot screw if need be. On a lot of lower quality knives the pivot screw can loosen from regular use so tighten if needed,  touch up the edge if needed, after maintenance is complete perform function check again and then put back where it belongs.

Multi Tool

Open the tool and do a function check of all tools. Ensure that the tools open and are not damaged, Inspect for rust or damage, clean and lightly lubricate if needed, touch up knife blades if needed, after maintenance is complete perform another function check and then put back where it belongs.

Inspect the body of the light for rust or damage, do a function check and then do a self blinding test, if not bright enough to blind then replace batteries. clean if necessary after maintenance is complete perform another function check and put back where it belongs.

open baton, inspect for rust or damage, do a function check and if necessary disassemble (be sure you know HOW to do this before you try it.) especially important if Baton came into contact with sea water or damp environments recently.DO NOT LUBRICATE. Friction lock batons by there name require friction lockup to function properly. reassemble, function check 3 or 4 times. collapse and place back where it belongs.

Cell Phone
Inspect phone for damage, if in a protective case remove and inspect inside of case for moisture. ensure battery is charged. if spare batteries are carried ensure a full charge in those as well. clean surface of phone. ensure charger is packed

Gear Bag:
Organize contents for the coming week, remove any garbage or useless items, 

Duty Belt:
Inspect belt and pouches for fraying or damage. check pouches to ensure the belt loops have not loosened or snapped, if dirty wipe down with a clean rag.

Inspect for damage, empty pockets, clean uniform, iron if necessary, clean boots, polish boots to a shine, deal with any loose threads, hang up

Miscellaneous Electronics
ensure batteries are stocked, rechargable ones are full charges, power adaptors and necesarry cables are packed away neatly, inspect items for damage and take appropriate action if need be.

Medical Kit:
Check expiration dates on medications, inspect bandages or other packaged items for damage to packaging ensuring the items are sterile, replace anything that was used.

In general take care of your equipment and your equipment will take care of you. Perform consistent regular maintenance to ensure things stay in tip top shape.