Top positive review
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Common sense, but who listens to that?
on 4 November 2004
Anyone involved in any kind of security should read this book. While the politicians and the hysterical media scream about face recognition, and other security panaceas, Bruce Schneier explains simply and logically why it doesn't work and proposes much simpler and more effective measures.
Take face recognition as an example. Even a system claiming 99.9% accuracy (which none are) will still fail 1 in 1000 times. How many times would it fail when used on football crowd? Or at an airport? How are the police better off when they have to deal with dozens of false positives from the most perfect system? What is the point of a system which requires every face to be logged in a database when terrorists are so sparse to begin with (and not necessarily in the database)? Obviously it's ridiculous, but this doesn't stop people claiming such nonsense will prevent another 9/11 or whatever.
Instead he advocates human intelligence - security guards who are trained to recognize signs that people are behaving oddly (or 'hinky' as one officer described a terrorist caught smuggling a bomb). This and common sense security based upon risk assessment. As one of the world's leading experts on security, his is a voice that should be listened to. Unlike his crypto books, there is no an equations to be found here. Instead he highlights his points with real world examples and analogy. This tends to become a little tiresome in places, but the point is well made.
It's too bad that someone as informed as Schneier isn't in charge of policy. Otherwise we might be in a world where money would be spent on systems which actually protect us, rather than offer faux security and inconvenience.