THE MAGAZINE

Biometrics for Dummies

By Peter Gregory, CISA, and Michael A. Simon; Reviewed by Ben Rothke, CISSP

***** Biometrics for Dummies. By Peter Gregory, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Michael A. Simon; published by For Dummies, www.dummies.com (Web); 292 pages; $29.99.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Contrary to its self-effacing title, Biometrics for Dummies provides a thorough and comprehensive overview of the state of biometrics.

Like all books in the For Dummies series, this one is reader-friendly and avoids jargon. It details the state of the art in biometric technology, covers various policy and privacy issues, and shows where the technology is headed.

For the uninitiated, biometrics is the science of identifying humans based on unique physical characteristics, such as a fingerprint, retina, or signature. Biometric identifiers have been used for decades in IT and physical security. It has remained a niche market, though even before 9-11, technology and security industry pundits were always predicting that the next year would be the “Year of Biometrics.”

It is 2009, and that year has still not come, but more and more biometric technologies are arriving on the scene, and systems are being fielded on a sizeable scale. This growth is due in large part to various U.S. government mandates requiring biometrics for more effective authentication and identification, such as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, which requires a biometric element in federal employees’ identification credentials.

This work focuses on comparing the various types of biometrics and shows that there is no “best” solution. Rather, every biometric technology has its own set of plusses and minuses, and it is up to you to decide what is best for your organization. The authors give readers all of the pertinent information to make an educated decision. They also explain how to effectively implement a biometrics initiative.

What you can’t find in the text itself, you can probably find using the comprehensive list of references and resources provided.

Don’t be misled by the title; this book really is a comprehensive overview of biometrics. And if 2010 does prove to be the Year of Biometrics, Biometrics for Dummies will help you implement biometric technology effectively. Only a dummy wouldn’t read a book like that.


Reviewer: Ben Rothke, CISSP, is a senior security consultant with BT.

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