RISKS Digest

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The RISKS Digest or Forum On Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems is an online periodical published since 1985 by the Committee on Computers and Public Policy of the Association for Computing Machinery. The editor is Peter G. Neumann.

It is a moderated forum concerned with the security and safety of computers, software, and technological systems. Security, and risk, here are taken broadly; RISKS is concerned not merely with so-called security holes in software, but with unintended consequences and hazards stemming from the design (or lack thereof) of automated systems. Other recurring subjects include cryptography and the effects of technically ill-considered public policies. RISKS also publishes announcements and Calls for Papers from various technical conferences, and technical book reviews (usually by Rob Slade, though occasionally by others).

Although RISKS is a forum of a computer science association, most contributions are readable and informative to anyone with an interest in the subject. It is heavily read by system administrators, and computer security managers, as well as computer scientists and engineers.

The RISKS Digest is published on a frequent but irregular schedule through the moderated Usenet newsgroup comp.risks, which exists solely to carry the Digest.

Summaries of the forum appear as columns edited by Neumann in the ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes (SEN) and the Communications of the ACM (CACM).


Nitrogen Used To Fill Aircraft Oxygen Systems
<Peter G Neumann <Neumann@..>>
Fri, 21 Dec 2007 21:24:51 -0600

Airlines all over the world are being warned to check to make sure there's actually oxygen in their aircraft oxygen systems after an embarrassing mix-up by Qantas Airlines at Melbourne International Airport. For ten months, crews have been filling airliner oxygen systems from a nitrogen cart that's supposed to be used to fill tires. The mistake went unnoticed until a couple of weeks ago when an observant aircraft engineer spotted service workers using the cart. "He was walking around the plane and asked what they were doing. When they said they were topping up the oxygen, he said, 'No you're not, that's a nitrogen cart,'" an unnamed source told *The Age*. As anyone who works with industrial gases knows, oxygen tanks have different fittings than other gases to prevent exactly this kind of mix-up. However, when the crews discovered the fittings on what they thought was their new oxygen cart didn't fit, they swapped them for the ones on the old cart they were retiring. Of course, Australian officials are looking into the error and Qantas has been busy notifying other airlines that use its services in Melbourne. Hundreds of aircraft may be affected.


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