REVIEW: "Biometrics", John D. Woodward/Nicholas M. Orlans/Peter T. Higgins

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. BKBIOMTC.RVW 20031204

    "Biometrics", John D. Woodward/Nicholas M. Orlans/Peter T. Higgins,
    2003, 0-07-222227-1, U$49.99/C$74.95
    %A John D. Woodward
    %A Nicholas M. Orlans
    %A Peter T. Higgins
    %C 300 Water Street, Whitby, Ontario L1N 9B6
    %D 2003
    %G 0-07-222227-1
    %I McGraw-Hill Ryerson/Osborne
    %O U$49.99/C$74.95 905-430-5000 +1-800-565-5758 fax: 905-430-5020
    %P 432 p.
    %T "Biometrics"

    The book is intended for both students and professionals, covering all
    of the aspects and uses of biometrics. The chapters are written by a
    number of contributing authors. For example, Richard E. Smith, author
    of "Authentication" (cf. BKAUTHNT.RVW) wrote the introduction found in
    chapter one. It is an excellent precis of the uses of, and
    requirements for, authentication, paying particular attention to the
    use, strengths, and weaknesses of biometrics. The functional aspects
    of biometric assessment; feature extraction, storage, error rates, and
    so forth; are covered well in chapter two. (There is a rather odd
    confusion of genetic and phenotypic sources of biometrics: aside from
    behavioural measures and DNA testing itself, almost all biometrics are
    expressed characteristics, and therefore phenotypic.)

    Part two deals with types of biometrics. Chapter four provides
    fascinating details on the history, technology, storage, indexing, and
    searching of fingerprint records, and a brief mention of hand
    geometry. After the wealth of technicalities about fingerprints, the
    very basic explanations of enrollment of face and voice recognition
    are disappointing. The material on iris and retina scanning, in
    chapter five, is slightly better, but signature and keystroke dynamics
    again get minimal coverage in chapter six. Eleven of the more
    esoteric biometrics are briefly described in chapter seven, ranging
    from standards such as DNA testing to odd entries like sweat pore
    distribution or body odour.

    Part three looks at various aspects or factors to consider in
    implementing biometrics. Chapter eight looks at the question of
    "liveness" testing. (This is the biometrics topic beloved of students
    the world over: "What if you cut off the guy's finger and used that?"
    Students tend to be rather gruesome creatures.) Most of chapter nine
    is devoted to a guide for contracting out, or questions to ask
    contractors or vendors. Various standards bodies are described in
    chapter ten. Chapter eleven talks about issues involved in testing of
    biometric systems.

    Part four deals with privacy, policies, and legal issues. Chapter
    twelve examines both the threats and the benefits that biometrics
    holds for privacy. There is a detailed and interesting look at
    (mostly US) law and decisions relating to privacy, and the
    implications for biometric applications, in chapter thirteen. Chapter
    fourteen does have brief case studies of the use of biometrics at the
    Super Bowl and in Virginia Beach, but concentrates on the legal
    issues. Chapter fifteen deals with the American digital signature
    law, and the potential relation to the inclusion of biometrics in the
    process. Some material is repeated from earlier chapters.

    Part five reviews selected biometrics programs. Chapter sixteen
    covers government and military programs, most related to law
    enforcement. Searching the FBI files of civil (or non-criminal)
    fingerprint files, in chapter seventeen, reiterates a fair amount of
    content from chapter four. Private sector programs, in chapter
    eighteen, are primarily concerned with face recognition in casinos or
    a variety of systems for banks, but others are mentioned. Chapter
    nineteen presents a very detailed and thoughtful analysis of the
    possibilities for a national identity card.

    Because this book is essentially a collection of standalone essays by
    a variety of authors, there is a great deal of overlap and duplication
    of material, and at times this repetition becomes annoying. This is,
    however, the most useful and informative work on biometrics that I
    have reviewed to date, and the analysis, in particular, is
    comprehensive and even-handed. I would recommend this as both a
    serviceable introduction to anyone who must work with biometrics, and
    as a guide to the controversies surrounding them.

    copyright Robert M. Slade, 2003 BKBIOMTC.RVW 20031204


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    Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jan 30, 2004
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