Sneaking Into the Olympics with a Safety Vest (and EMG tip)

Guy gets into (empty) “high security” Olympic arena with nothing but a hard hat and a safety vest. “You can get in anywhere if you look like a builder” is the key quote. For harder venues — like where there’s a lockdown due to an impending head-of-state visit — he recommends carrying a tray of tea. (Apparently he’s used this to great effect investigating child slavery operations in Pakistan and India.)

Double props for his ending comment: “Number one, most security stories are made to instil fear in the public. My personal opinion is that theres no such thing as the al-Qaeda and terrorism threat in London, it’s much less than were led to believe.”

EMG tip: Fed up with the long delay involved in downloading files from the recorder? A scope with single-shot triggering lets you see signals immediately. Perfect for tweaking electrode locations and the like. And a scope has vastly higher resolution than an audio recorder.

Sadly the DSO QUAD didn’t ship with a particularly functional single-shot trigger. It took upgrading the FPGA to the latest software version to fix it. And then because the manufacturer’s latest software seems to crash when it sees high-frequency waves, I got to grab an alternate firmware written by a guy named Chip on the SeeedStudio forums (chipapp_b253.hex and chipsys_b151.hex).

Upgrading was a bit more involved than might first appear: I practice what I preach when it comes to doing security on a fundamental level. Step one was setting up an Arduino to work as a USB-UART interface (bypassing the main chip, actually). That way, if the upgrade went bad, I could still bypass the bootloader and write a known-good image of the entire memory using the DSO QUAD’s back-door in-circuit programming port. (The software for this, ST Micro’s Flash Loader Demonstrator, works wonderfully under Wine. Note that the interface terminology is somewhat backward, “upload” is what downloads the contents of memory from the DSO, while “download” writes a new image.)

“Because of all the hype surrounding G4S security, I decided to try and sneak in there last Monday.[…]

So they just let you in?
It was really easy. Ive been sneaking my way into places in just a high-vis jacket for a while. I just bought one for a $8, as well as a blue helmet, and Ive been doing that for years. Honestly, you can get in anywhere if you look like a builder. I was waved through the first gate by a G4S security guard, and then I started talking to a second security guard who just let me walk through to the backstage area.[…]

Did you have any name on the jacket, or was it just plain?
No, it was just a basic high-vis. I was just wandering around shooting videos on the iPhone.[…]

In 1999, when the Millennium Dome was built, the head of the Metropolitan police said, No one can get into the Millennium Dome, its on lockdown before Tony Blair and the Queen get there. But again, I bought a high-vis jacket and a hard hat and walked in. That time I was carrying four cups of tea. If you ever get stopped trying to get in somewhere, go outside and buy a tray full of cups of tea, and then walk through. Ive used that all over the world, Ive used that to get into all kinds of places, and its always worked. No one ever stops you.[…]

And then I got into numerous factories in Pakistan and India, you know, doing investigations into child slavery. You cant get into these places because theyre protected and all that business, but Ive gotten into them.[…]

Why do you think people are so trusting?
A high-vis jacket has become the costume for anyone whos official, including the police, builders, and inspectors of every kind. Even security guards and the bosses of these places are often a bit sheepish about approaching people in these jackets who look like they know what theyre doing.[…]

What do you think are the implications of being able to waltz in so easily?
I think there are several implications. Number one, most security stories are made to instil fear in the public. My personal opinion is that theres no such thing as the al-Qaeda and terrorism threat in London, it’s much less than were led to believe. But that wasnt my point. Number two is that G4S have been given so much money to secure the games and its taken so long to plan the Olympics, that they should have it down.”


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