The Daily Parker

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Security comes down to people

Two examples of totally ineffective security responses in today's news. First, in suburban Chicago, a commuter-rail ticket agent called police about a man with a gun boarding a train, causing a two-hour delay as heavily-armed cops evacuated and searched the train. They found the man with the gun when the man in question saw the commotion and identified himself as a Secret Service agent, not realizing he was himself the target of the search:

Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said the incident began when a plainclothes Secret Service agent asked a Naperville ticket agent whether there were metal detectors aboard the BNSF Line train and indicated he was carrying a gun.

Kristina Schmidt of the Secret Service office in Chicago said a preliminary review showed the agent had acted properly and identified himself to the ticketing staff.

Schmidt said the agent noticed the Metra employees eyes go to his waist and look at his service weapon as he was taking out his wallet to buy a ticket.

"He verbally identified himself as law enforcement and said that he was armed," Schmidt said. "That was pretty much the extent of their conversation."

Assuming all was fine, the agent boarded the train, she said.

It was a few minutes later that police boarded the train. The agent again identified himself, Schmidt said, not realizing his interaction with the Metra employee had led to the train being stopped.

The ticket agent had told police a suspicious man was asking "unusual questions that were security-based" at the Naperville Metra station, Naperville Police Cmdr. Dave Hoffman had said. Officers were unsure if the man got on the train so authorities decided to stop it near Lisle to search for him, he said.

Farther afield, in the U.K., a official for a prision lost an encrypted memory stick containing personal health information about prisoners. The problem? The password was taped to the stick (via Bruce Schneier):

Health bosses have apologised after a memory stick containing patient information was lost at Preston Prison.

An urgent investigation was launched after the USB data stick – with the password attached to it on a memo note – went missing on Tuesday, December 30.

The stick may have contained information of up to 6,360 patients.

Kudos to everyone involved for using your heads and keeping us all safe!

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