Passenger Profiling

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Current security measures

Whenever a terrorist manages to breach the security system designed to protect airports, questions are asked as to why these countermeasures failed. Invariably new regulations are created and money is spent on technologies in the hope that they fill the gaps left by the last security breach. For example, following the Liquid bomb plot, restrictions were put into place limiting passengers to 100ml bottles of liquid in their hand luggage and more recently money has been spent on full body scanners in the hope that they will detect IEDs concealed on terrorists’ bodies.

Continually mutating threat

Although adding new technologies and restricting certain items can help security screeners detect threat items, they are not effective against the continually mutating threat of terrorism.  Infogence, providers of terrorism incidents and activities intelligence reports, are continually gathering intelligence regarding discussions about new IED technologies and concealments on terrorist websites and message boards.

So while the new regulations and body scanners may foil another “Underwear Bomb” style terrorist attack, they may not be effective against whatever the terrorists use next.

Inefficient security measures

Current security measures are extremely predictable usually involving an X-ray machine and a metal detector/ body scanner while slower but more advanced explosives detection technologies are rarely used.

The security measures therefore rely heavily on the ability of x-ray screeners to identify concealed IEDs, weapons and their components that, without the highest level of training, are extremely difficult to detect. Added to this the fact that security companies are under pressure to get passengers through security checks and into duty free shops as quickly as possible means that screeners are not being given the required time to provide an informed decision on each bag.

Screening all passengers and their luggage in exactly the same way, using the same technologies and as quickly as possible seems extremely inefficient given the fact that 99.9% of passengers are not terrorists.  If the current security measures were applied to a doctor’s surgery, the doctor would take an x-ray of each patient, no matter what their complaint was, look at it for 6 seconds and provide a diagnosis.

Fortunately, doctors do not treat patients this way, and instead ask a few questions before deciding whether further tests are needed on the patient or whether they can be diagnosed straight away. The same principle could be applied to security screening through the use of passenger profiling.



Passenger Profiling

Profiling involves carrying out a risk analysis on all passengers passing through a security checkpoint. It involves passengers being asked a set of questions based on any suspicious signs in their documentation, itinerary, appearance and behaviour. The screener then decides based on the passenger’s behaviour and answers whether they are a threat to the flight they are attempting to board.

Those who pose a threat are put through stringent security measures using complimentary detection technologies like explosives trace detectors, while those who are not seen as threats would ideally go through the normal security measures minus the removal of shoes, liquids and so on.

Profiling therefore provides a more efficient use of both security personnel and technologies.  Security staff can be trained on previous attacks and known terrorist modus operandi enabling them to respond to future threats as well as to those of the past while screeners are given the required time and technologies needed to detect the threat items concealed by terrorists.

An Integrated Security Process

Passenger Profiling should not be seen as a substitute for other screening processes but be integrated into a one stop security checkpoint involving the screening of checked luggage, hand luggage and passengers.

Integrating all security processes allows for security personnel to get the full picture when screening passengers and their luggage. They can identify anomalies and create a more detailed profile of each passenger.

An example of where an integrated security process involving profiling could have been used successfully comes following the recent attempt to blow up flight 253. Abdulmutallab could have been asked why he bought his ticket in Ghana with cash for a flight that left from Nigeria  or why he had not checked luggage for a 2 week stay in the U.S. Had he not provided adequate answers to these questions then he could have been selected for a more thorough check using the various detection tools available.

The need for Training

Although passenger profiling has been implemented in many airports around the world it is often scaled back due to fears that it encourages racial discrimination. There is a worry that screeners can become complacent, see someone and decide that they are a threat due to their religious belief or the colour of their skin rather than through proper reasoning.

The fact is that profiling must be carried out by skilled individuals who have been properly trained to identify terrorists through behavioural analysis, documentation and expert questioning.

Renful Premier Technologies offer a seminar designed to equip all participants with the knowledge, techniques and practical skills required to organise and implement an effective Profiling System at their location.

For more information on our Passenger Profiling please visit us at


From Actionable Intelligence to Actionable Security Training & Testing



Throughout the last decade, terrorist organisations have moved more and more towards the use of the internet as a vital tool for sharing information and providing training on bomb manufacturing, I.E.D concealment and breaching security.

Although government counter terrorism institutions around the world gather this intelligence as part of their wider investigations, the information is often not shared with organisations due to their high levels of confidentiality. This is unfortunate as it is the kind of actionable intelligence needed by organisations to update their security training and infrastructure.

Intelligence is especially important when it comes to explosives and explosive devices. This is because terrorists are continually creating new types of IED’s and concealments to enable them to get through security checks. A lack of actionable intelligence means that security personnel are often not given enough up to date information and training on current terrorist activities regarding explosives and explosive devices to have the ability to detect them.

Realising a need to fill this intelligence gap, Infogence Systems was established to provide the security industry with actionable terrorism intelligence that can be used to provide focused training to security personnel. Infogence offers a range of tailor made monthly terrorist intelligence reports each providing valid, up to date and relevant information, analysis and videos on terrorist activities throughout the world.


Expert Analysis

Infogence Systems employs multi lingual counter terrorism experts who pose as extremists gaining access to closely guarded online terrorist networks. Our analysts monitor relevant websites and participate in forums, blogs and other online exchanges gaining valuable insight into ongoing terrorist activities and strategies.

Once the intelligence is gathered, a team of counter terrorism analysts drawn from military and security backgrounds assess the intelligence and create detailed and relevant reports containing information, analysis and videos.  Infogence has counter terrorism experts each specializing in different areas including Improvised Explosive Devises (IED’s), Military equipment, Firearms, Rocket launchers, Information Warfare and other indirect firearms.

Actionable Intelligence

The intelligence gained from an Insight report is tailor made to provide up to date and relevant intelligence to an organisation. It contains a variety of intelligence that can be used immediately to update and improve security structures, update training plans and increase awareness. These include:

  • trends in terrorist explosive manufacturing including chemical explosives, incendiary devices, powder explosives, liquid explosives, plastic explosives, improvised explosive devices, etc…
  • trends in concealed explosive devices and concealed weapons
  • detailed analysis of recent terrorist attacks throughout the world including bombings, assassinations, hijackings,
  • recent failed terror plots
  • terrorist training manuals

Actionable Training

Renful has developed a set of training aids to work in conjunction with the Infogence Intelligence reports, thus allowing for the creation of a more focused training plan and better prepared security staff.

Each Infogence report can be accompanied by an inert simulant IED, which is often concealed, mentioned within it. These “drill items” are created by explosives experts and maintain the same colour, texture, density and CT number as the original IED.

As well as these “drill items” Renful has developed a range of inert explosives simulants that also maintain the same characteristics as their originals. They were developed to provide screeners with the knowledge and experience of items that, due to their danger and illegality, they would otherwise not get. These simulants replicate each major type of explosive favored by terrorist groups around the world

  • Liquid Explosives – includes Nitro glycerine, Aluminized Dynamite, Astrolite and more…
  • Cast Explosives – includes TNT & TNT flakes.
  • Plastic Explosives – includes C4, Semtex H, Semtex A, Detonation Sheets and more…
  • Powder Explosives – includes TATP, Black Powder, Smokeless Powder and more…
  • Improvised Explosives – includes Pipe Bomb, Improvised Detonator Sheets and more…
  • Detonators – includes Electric Aluminium, Electric Cardboard and more…

Training kits have also been developed to provide training on specified types of IED’s and explosives. These include:

  • Extended Explosives Identification and X-ray Training Kit- includes 14 different types of explosives and explosive components.
  • Concealed IEDs – includes 7 everyday items concealed with an explosive device.
  • Explosives Identification Kit – includes 36 samples of explosives, each packed into a clear plastic box, with individual insert cards containing technical data.
  • Modular Bomb Kit – includes components necessary to construct a range of simulated bombs
  • Anti Handling Booby Trap Kit – includes 7 individual booby-trap components.
  • Improvised Explosives Training Kit – includes some of the popular Explosives that are being used by terrorists


Each month on receiving an Infogence report, trainers can set up classroom sessions discussing current terrorist trends with their screeners as well as demonstrating the “drill item” and a simulant of any of the explosives discussed in the report. This enables security staff to familiarise themselves with the geometrical pattern, colour and texture of explosives and IED’s enabling them to gain valuable hand search skills and experience of the latest types of explosives and explosive devices used by terrorists.


Actionable Testing

As each “drill item” and inert explosives simulant maintains the correct x-ray signature; they can also be scanned on to Simfox, the x-ray image processor and x-ray training and testing simulator.

Simfox is compatible with all major x-ray manufacturers and maintains each machine’s correct image enhancements and image resolution. It is therefore ideal for item familiarisation under x-ray with each “drill item” and simulant being passed through the simulator individually giving screeners the opportunity to study them under each image enhancement

Simfox is unique in that it allows x-ray trainers to pack bags themselves by choosing from a library of 1500+ items and bags. This means that once familiarisation training is over, trainers can conceal the “drill items” and simulants within bags making it as hard as they believe is necessary for screeners to detect. The fact that new bags can be created continually means students must rely on detection skills rather than image recall.

Readiness Report

It is important for training to be continually reviewed and updated to suit the needs of the screener. Simfox’s advanced statistical module enables each screener’s results to be quantified. It provides analysis of each screener’s performance on each test bag, session and course and offers comparisons with other students and groups.

Screener performance can also be analysed based on their ability to detect certain types of threat items. For example, if a screener has a low detection rate on explosive devices, they can be given additional visualisation training and tailored Simfox training sessions to improve their detection skills and experience of certain items.

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Airport Security – Full Body Scanners Information

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Following the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas day, 2009, many airports around the world are planning to implement full body scanners as part of their security checks.

Over the past few weeks there have been many conflicting stories regarding their effectiveness in detecting threat objects, speed, impact on health and whether they infringe on human rights and rights to privacy.

Q: How do these full-body scanners work?

A: There are two types of scanners currently available; “millimeter wave” and “backscatter” machines.

Millimeter wave units send radio waves over a person and produce a three-dimensional image by measuring the energy reflected back.


Backscatter machines use low-level X-rays to create a two-dimensional image of the body.

Q: Are these full body scanners harmful?

A: According to the TSA, the American College of Radiology and other professional organisations the technology is harmless, however like all new technology it is difficult to establish its safety until the technology has been tested over several years.

Millimeter wave energy is common in the world, and the scanners produce far less energy than a cell/mobile phone.

According to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP); a traveler would need to experience 100 backscatter scans per year to reach what is called as a Negligible Individual Dose (NID). NID is the “level of average annual excess risk of fatal health effects below which efforts to reduce radiation exposures to the individual are unwarranted.” Therefore, a traveler would require more than 1,000 such scans in a year to reach the effective dose equal to one standard chest x-ray.

Anyone who is still worried by the technology can refuse the body the scanner, and instead opt for a physical pat down.

Q: What items can body scanners uncover?

A: A full body scanner will carry the same function as a physical pat down. It will find any item that is on a person, whether strapped or in a pocket.

Unlike the current metal detectors used in airports, it can detect non metallic items such as drugs, plastic explosives and chemical explosives.

Q: What can they not uncover?

A: Any item that is stashed in a body cavity. The body scanners will therefore be no use against a terrorist stashing an explosive device in a cavity, a tactic which has been discussed in terrorist forums online.

Q: Are Body Scanners common in Airports?

A: Up until now the scanners have been used sparingly, mainly in a testing capacity, due to worries that they infringe on passengers’ rights of privacy.

In U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration has begun expanding the use of full-body scanning machines. The TSA has 40 in place, just bought 150 and plans to buy 300 more.

Q: Is there a way to make the scans less revealing?

A: Currently the image that appears shows the curves of the person and can be likened to a “strip search” however the technology is continually evolving, and many manufacturers are developing scanners that reduce the clarity of identifying details. This includes blurring the face, or producing a chalk outline of the body.

New software is currently being developed that converts the real x-ray image of the person being scanned into a stylized 3D image, maintaining any area of the body where objects are concealed under clothing or within pockets.

Q: What is being done to make sure images are safeguarded?

Full-body images should be viewed in a walled-off location not visible to the public. The security officer assisting the passenger cannot view the image, and the officer who views the image doesn’t see the passenger. If the officer viewing the image sees something of concern, he notifies the agent who is with the passenger to carry out further screening. Officers who view the images will not be allowed to take cameras or cell phones into the screening rooms.

The TSA states that the machines cannot save and print images. However, it has been widely reported in the press that as part of their technical specifications, the TSA wanted the machines to have these functions albeit disabled.

Q: How long does it take to be scanned?

A: The machines are getting faster but still can take up to 15-30 seconds to scan a traveler and to assess the x-ray image, which would make the process slower than using metal detectors.

Q: Can they be used on every passenger boarding a flight?

A: No airport has currently enough body scanners to screen every passenger. For example, in the U.S., there are 730 checkpoints with 2,100 security lanes at the nation’s 450 airports, and there are thousands more lanes at airports around the world.

Amsterdam Airport’s 15 scanners won’t be enough to screen every U.S.A bound passenger, so pat-down searches will still be used.

Another reason is expense; machines are currently $130,000 to $200,000 each.

The fact is, at this moment if every passenger was to be screened it would create long queues which could become a terrorist target.

Q. Will it improve security and stop terrorists?

Terrorism Intelligence reports shows a growing trend towards terrorists concealing explosives internally, something that could not be stopped by a body scanner.

They cannot detect low-density materials such as explosive powders like the PETN used by Abdulmutallab in his attempt to bomb Flight 253. They would also have trouble detecting liquid explosives and thin pieces of plastic explosives like detonator sheets.

Terrorists are creative, for example Richard “the shoe bomber” Reid, and will always find ways to get past security checks.

The high expense of these full body scanners could cut funding to more proven measures of security, like training security personnel.

In summary, full body scanners cannot be viewed as the sole solution to screening passengers. It currently has, like most security technology, flaws and should therefore only be viewed as a useful addition to well-trained and aware security personnel.

For more information about Renful and all the security training products and services we provide please visit our website

Research Carried Out Could Help Improve Detection Skills of Security Screeners

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Harvard scientists have uncovered the scientific reason why x-ray screeners find it hard to find certain items and easier to find others.

According to the research, Security staff at airports that have 600 bags to scan, of which 15 contain weapons or other threat items, are unlikely to find all 15. Proportionate to the number of things, searchers will make more errors if the object they’re looking for is rare.

According to lead researcher Jeremy Wolfe, “If you don’t find it often, you often don’t find it.”

The team has also found that items that occur more often will have the reverse effect. For example, screeners are likely to think they see sun lotion when it is in fact not there.

To test this, researchers from Harvard, used two groups of between 12 and 13 volunteers to search through some computer-generated bag contents. They found that screeners reaction time to realizing a rare item was in the bag was slower.

The findings of the study could be useful, say the researchers, in training security staff at airports. If screeners spend a couple of minutes doing a simulated search for weapons and other threat items they are then more likely to find rare items during the next 30minutes of their shift. .

Reference: Current Biology –

Flight 253 – Security Training Must Be Improved

Throughout the last decade there have been many advances in the technologies that have been  used to improve the security of airports around the world. X-ray manufacturers have improved baggage screening technologies  and many airports are now set to introduce Rapiscan full body scanners following the flight 253 incident.

Threat identification under X-ray Training and Testing

While the improvements in technology can only help secure the aviation industry from terrorist attacks, it is equally important that those using the technology are given a high level of security training as technology on its own cannot stop breaches in security. X-ray security training is a must not just at the start of a screeners career but throughout. Given that I.E.D detection rates under x-ray have been reported as low as 20%, vigorous training and testing and more scrutinizing of results is needed.

It is therefore important that x-ray training software offers trainers a platform that enables them to  continually provide different challenges to their screeners. While most x-ray simulators only provide a set number of bags or place threat items randomly in Bags as is the case in the TIP system, Simfox offers trainers the ability to create bags thus negating the opportunity for the screener to use image recall.

Simfox offers trainers the opportunity to think carefully about how to train and test their screeners giving them the opportunity to provide a more realistic test. As Simfox keeps a database of all test results, Airport Managers would be  able to determine easily the ability of their screeners to detect different types of threats and act accordingly.

Over Reliance on Technology

Since the Christmas day attempted bombing, many airports have decided to implement full body scanners as part of their security check . The full body scanners that are currently being implemented into airports take around 30 seconds per passenger and would therefore produce big queues that in themselves could present tempting targets for attacks inside terminals.  It is therefore c lear that placing each and every passenger through these full body scanners is unworkable and that other security measures like Profiling need to be put into place to maintain tight security while maintaining passenger through flow.


Passenger profiling is misunderstood by many as a tool which promotes racial discrimination. However, the recent attempt to blow up flight 253 could have been stopped at the security checks with just a few simple questions.  For example, Abdulmutallab, the suspected bomber, could have been asked why he bought his ticket in Ghana with cash for a flight that left from Nigeria or why he had not checked luggage for a 2 week stay in the U.S. Had he not provided adequate answers to these questions then he could have been selected for a more thorough check using the various detection tools available.

Threat Familiarisation with Simulants

While security technology may make it easier to detect threat items, unless security personnel know what they are looking for they will not find it. Explosive simulants are an ideal way of familiarizing staff with the types of explosives and explosive devices and their components they are likely to encounter in the event of a terrorist attack.

Maintaining the same look, texture and density of real explosives, these simulants are ideal for both x-ray and hand search training and provide security staff with the tools needed to effectively identify threats both visually and under x-ray.

Terrorism Intelligence Reports

Information is an important tool when it comes to understanding how terrorists work. Whether it is Richard Reid concealing explosives in his shoes or  Abdulmutallab’s underwear I.E.D, terrorists are continually finding new ways to get past security checks.  It is therefore important that airport security staff are continually updated on the latest terrorist trends. Monthly terrorist intelligence reports like Infogence infiltrate jihad and other terrorist websites and provide the security industry with details of new types of explosive devices and other significant issues currently being discussed.

Security technologies have come a long way and are likely to become increasingly important in the fight against terrorism. However, terrorists will always find ways of getting past these technologies.  High quality security training is therefore needed to provide security staff with the skills to provide layered security checks.

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