Feeds

Letter bombs: an expert writes

Reg UXB man delivers the facts

Reducing security risks from open source software

Analysis Bomb-disposal operators quite like letter bombs, or "postals" as they are known in the trade. A postal device – especially if it's in an actual letter, as opposed to a parcel – is usually not very powerful. Even unprotected civilians are seldom killed by postals, and an operator in full armour can feel fairly relaxed when dealing with one.

Another plus is that if the package is unopened it can be handled and moved about without worry. After all, if the thing could suffer the Royal Mail's tender mercies without exploding, it isn't going to mind being picked up and X-rayed.

Similarly, as it was sent by post, one can generally rule out a timed detonation. The bomb maker has no firm idea when his weapon will be delivered. Almost all postals, therefore, are "victim operated" – that is, booby-traps intended go off on opening.

This in turn means that postals are normally constructed by low-calibre bombers, often disgruntled loonies acting alone. If an organisation uses letter bombs, it will normally be a lightweight, flakey, unprofessional one – animal liberationists or suchlike.

Serious criminals/terrorists/noble-freedom-fighters are usually seeking to strike at high-profile or security-conscious people, and such targets rarely open their own mail.

Say you're considering the letter-bombing of a senior business executive or a government official of any rank. A little thought will tell you that the only person likely to be hurt is an anonymous clerical employee, probably fairly blameless even in your twisted bomb-maker's world view. Thus, the serious players tend not to bother, leaving the letter-bombing field to the loopier small-fry elements.

The current letter-bombing campaign in the UK certainly fits the profile. By using letter bombs the perpetrator is effectively saying: "I am a fringe wacko of some sort." Speculation that the campaign is an extreme case of road rage against motoring bureaucracy is likely correct.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.