If the Polonium scare shows anything it demonstrates quite clearly that protection agencies can do very well with easily identifiable and well understood hazards. With less well known, less likely threats they seem to be at an almost complete loss initially. Yes, they get better at reacting, but so do the people who purport to cause threats, whether they be individuals, terrorists, States or whatever / whoever.
On line in the Internet we see the cat and mouse game of threats played out on a daily basis with viruses, Trojans and the like. What value is there in having a virus checker that catches a virus that was around 10 years ago? Probably not very much. Any hacker would be too embarrassed to send a new variant of an old virus, knowing that, and also unless this was a significantly different variant (which would then probably qualify it as a new virus) then it would have great difficulty getting of the starting grid. So a lot of hacker effort would go nowhere.
Would it not be more fun, interesting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding to a virus writer to create a new virus that has no defense in traditional anti-virus programs? I just received an email from British Airways announcing their position on the Pulonium scare. And not surprisingly it takes a similar position to announcements from Microsoft. Microsoft announce / release security hot fixes when the problem is “solved”, when it is history. Before that moment they say very little, if nothing. Announcements tend, as with that from BA, focus on the good news, leaving debatable points and further negative issues in the background for those interested in reading between the lines.
So what lines could one read if interested? What about other planes? ok so the originally suspect planes are ok, but what about all other planes? What guarantees are their that a pulonium scare is possible elsewhere? Obviously we should not stop flying or travelling. Also we should not let scares such as this stop us from living our normal lives.