Feeds

Letter bombs: an expert writes

Reg UXB man delivers the facts

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.