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Biotech Security

Skeletal Identification 76

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-about-uriah's-shoulder dept.
Bruce Schneier noted a story today over at his blog about a new Skeletal Identification System being developed at Wright State. Of course this is just another biometric detection system, but one that would be pretty tough to disguise.
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Skeletal Identification

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  • Cool (Score:1, Funny)

    by jez9999 (618189)

    This system could be a real boner for criminals.

  • Hot. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:07AM (#33353826)

    I imagine there may be some issues with irradiating people to identify them. This isn't something on the surface you can just get with backscatter terahertz. Imaging bones means X-ray, and a fair bit of it for a full-body image. They might be able to get it down to the equivilent exposure of one plane flight - but add up all the airports, ports, theme parks and places adults may encouter children each year. That's a potential legal risk, if nothing else.

    On the other hand, if someone suggested imposing manditory x-ray exposure as a means to identify pedophiles, most people would probably suggest positive results be given an extra-high-intensity scan just to confirm it with a clearer image.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...places adults may encouter children each year

      Stop thinking of the children already, you pervert!

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
      most people would probably suggest positive results be given an extra-high-intensity scan just to confirm it with a clearer image

      I would suggest just turning the sucker up to 11-thousand when you initially scan the perp for the database. Problem solved. Hopefully they don't use one of those lame machines that only goes up to 10-thousand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is something I have to be concerned about because if the radiation is that significant, I won't be able to go through them without risking damage (I received the maximum dosage of medical x-rays (e.g. to treat cancer) that I'll ever be able to receive for the rest of my life).

    • Re:Hot. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:39AM (#33354180)

      On the other hand, if someone suggested imposing manditory x-ray exposure as a means to identify pedophiles, most people would probably suggest positive results be given an extra-high-intensity scan just to confirm it with a clearer image.

      Hell yeah. I'd rather die in horrible agony because of severe overdose of bodyscans than having one peado walking around freely! I'll give up anything (you hear me? ANYTHING!) to catch them dirty bastards. ...

      I'm just waiting until the paedophiles and othre dirty bastards figure that it's probably easiest to simply work for a security company. Pictures and bodyscans all day.

    • These kinds of scanning do not use x-rays, rather monochromatic red light (primarily for eye-safety). They work by imaging the light by a red laser using a digital camera and transforming a 2D plane into a 3D object (surface) by reconstructing multiple views. The problem using these scanners is not that people would suffer harm from the beam, unless they looked directly into the laser, rather problems would come from artifacts produced by hair, clothing, etc that would mask the shape of the face and body,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        FTFA:

        X-rays, gamma rays or other forms of body scanning would be used to create a bone signature for each person. ... Depending on the selected technology, a skeletal scan would only expose a person to radiation that is the approximate equivalent of taking one cross-country airline flight.

        Although their language is somewhat vague ("other forms of body scanning" is open to interpretation), they clearly are not ruling out x-rays, and are obviously leaning towards a form or radiation that would penetrate the body, rather than reflect off the surface, and the exposure would be measurable and significant. GP has a good point.

        Basically for this to work, you would essentially need to be able to discriminate among terrorists and non-terrorists before you scanned them. (emphasis mine)

        Sort of moots the point, doesn't it? FTFA:

        What if there was a way to positively identify sex offenders as they arrived at theme parks and other venues populated by young children?

        You position this technology as a way to confirm suspicion about a particular individual. We have other methods for doing th

    • by DrYak (748999)

      Not to mention the rate of,

      - false negative.
      They specifically mention that broken bone and screws are things that make bone shape individual.
      As soon as one ot those "godless pedo-terrorist pirate" breaks a bone, he is a completely different person for this system. Unless you make it mandatory to periodically update the database to know each latest modification the bones have gone through.

      - false positive.
      There's some variability among population, but is it enough to distinguish reliabily all the population

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @12:27PM (#33356810) Homepage Journal

      Xrays and backscatters? Bruce Schneier needs none of these things to identify you by your skeleton. Bruce Schneier simply removes your skeleton from your body and gives it a once-over.

      (apologies to schneierfacts.com)

  • Facial recognition software is already notoriously unreliable [wikipedia.org]. I suspect that this system would be even easier to fool, and even more wonky with identification. Unless you could couple a bunch of these systems together, I doubt they would be useful at all. And I'm not even sure they would be particularly useful even if they were strung together. If a fake beard can fool facial recognition, then all I have to do is add an overcoat to deal with the skeletal recognition too.

    Besides, how many people share the

    • Facial recognition software is already notoriously unreliable [wikipedia.org]. I suspect that this system would be even easier to fool, and even more wonky with identification. Unless you could couple a bunch of these systems together, I doubt they would be useful at all. And I'm not even sure they would be particularly useful even if they were strung together. If a fake beard can fool facial recognition, then all I have to do is add an overcoat to deal with the skeletal recognition too.

      Besides, how many people share the same basic build? If the system were to get any more specific than that, it would probably require an X-ray or MRI, and that would ultimately cause *way* more deaths than any terrorist (I'll have to pass on the daily dose or radiation, thanks).

      With the average airplane passenger dead before their 50's, and the rest of us scared of the security rather than the flight itself, at least it would solve the problem of the long queues for check in and security...

      On a more serious note... doesn't bone deform a little if you get injured (let alone if you break it)? How is such a scan going to identify anyone in places where sports are popular (e.g. the entire world)?

      • by Zerth (26112)

        Hello, Unrecognized User!

        Crap, let me try again. *crack* @#$@#%

        Hello, Mr. Brandes!

        Whole new security system just because I went on one date. *sigh*

  • How long before there's a false-positive (I don't believe that the skeletal structure is so unique that a body scan from a distance will NEVER make a mistake)? And following the false-positive, a plea for all good citizens to submit to a scan for the database, or to sign a release stating the government can have access to your medical records for the purposes of security and to prevent "unfortunate" mix-ups.

    Once you're in the system, you're in it; making the notion that you have "paid your debt to society"

    • by eightball (88525)

      Every system has a false positive rate. The question is whether a given technique has a lower rate than other methods.

      • Let's not be naive, dirty business is mainstream, even if not widely practiced. There are already mass-tracking systems. Of various levels of legality and accessibility, depending on how much law, power, money, access, or friends you have. License plate tracking, credit cards, bank records, cookies, building passes, cameras, on and on. Extra easy to tell where everyone is going or not going combining a few of these. Governments and corporations don`t break the law, they outsource. Somebody gathers lots o
  • Easy to fool... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:21AM (#33353970)

    Oh come on. This is easier to avoid than using glitter to fool mass face recognition.

    That is, to have much value, working "at 50 meters," this is a mass detection system. You have to analyze hundreds if not thousands of targets, to known profiles. How do you fool it? Calcium is cheap, real cheap.

    • That little bitsy wee problem of getting the body scans of terrorists.

      I say the US invades Afghanistan with portable boner scanners and... everyone they find.

      (Whoops. They've already fucked everyone there, right?)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hoggoth (414195)

        That isn't a problem because the real purpose of this isn't to catch terrorists. It will have "STOPS TERRORISTS AND PEDOPHILES" stamped in glowing letters across the front to obtain funding. Then it will be sold to every idiot with a budget and too much power. Police departments, airports, hell as the article says:

        "It could go anywhere," he said. "It could be in every airport. You could put it in a hotel if it gets down to the right scale and cost."

        It will be used to "catch" people who owe library books and

        • Then it will be sold to every idiot with a budget and too much power.

          Not to worry then. With the economy going the way it is, nobody is going to have a budget for anything more expensive than a couple of new signs [salon.com].

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I see your point.
      This system where we combine fingerprinting with retinal scans and full body X-rays is not enough.

      I think we have a simple solution: brain measurements. I understand that brains have these wiggly lines on them (circumtelligently designed), and these are unique. So I propose we just put a neurosurgeon at each airport, to quickly check if your brain matches your passport.

    • by h00manist (800926)
      That's kind of like encryption or using a disguise however. if you use it and nobody else does, and it is detected, you are on the radar *because* you are detected as beating the system.
  • better terminator identification

    (said in flat austrian accent:)

    "I'm a cybernetic organism: living tissue over metal endoskeleton"

    • by TheLink (130905)

      Y'know I've always wondered if Arnold Schwarzenegger gets a vocal trainer just to maintain his accent (he's been in the US for so long right?).

      After all, I'm sure it's just not the same if he had a West Coast accent. Or worse:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kayFrIR-Qfw [youtube.com] :)

      • hilarious, thanks for that, never saw that before ;-)

        • by TheLink (130905)
          I can see reasons why that scene was cut though. In the terminator universe there would probably be pics of the first terminator, so using the same likeness would not be so plausible.

          But maybe they should have just left it in anyway... :).
  • by h00manist (800926) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:24AM (#33354024) Journal
    Myriads of automated, interconnected tracking and identification systems available to all, implemented in any storefront and doorway for security and insurance purposes. Full identification on visual contact. Privacy will become a right on paper only, requiring a vast security team to implement in practice, perhaps even breaking some laws. What should hackers do? Help dying privacy rights, with arcane tools nobody can use? Expose the tracking systems is pointless, everyone knows about them and has one. Leak their data? Leak the identities and actions of those hidden entities, who are abusing the law with it? Eliminating the last of all privacy-capable individuals? Looks to me like Wikileaks is the future for privacy activism. Come to think of it, in any small town in the world, privacy basically doesn`t exist, everyone knows who everyone is by sight, and it's not the end of the world. Expanding information and knowledge is, in a way, eliminating privacy.
    • by zzyzyx (1382375)

      in any small town in the world, privacy basically doesn`t exist, everyone knows who everyone is by sight, and it's not the end of the world

      Except in this case it's reciprocal. Everyone knows you and you know everyone, and you still have the privacy of your home. In "our" world large centralized systems watch you, but you don't know exactly who they are, what they know, and what they use this information for.

      If knowledge is power, I'm not convinced we should allow governments, corporations, etc. to have too much.

      • by h00manist (800926)
        Gray, black, official secret and multiple legal data markets are inevitably growing. Like drugs, the law can't eliminate the demand for these things. The biggest problem is privacy rights also getting abused as secrecy. We can download mp3's in privacy/secrecy and private entities can track us in privacy/secrecy. Additionally, there are many positive uses for data sharing which are not possible because of privacy questions. Government and corporate transparency. Universal medical records. Locating lost or
    • by mbone (558574)

      Come to think of it, in any small town in the world, privacy basically doesn`t exist, everyone knows who everyone is by sight, and it's not the end of the world.

      You obviously don't live in a small town. I do (actually, just outside one), and there certainly is privacy, even though everyone does pretty much know everybody. (The proof of this is how most affairs only get revealed in divorce court, not in town gossip.) There is also respect, which is even harder to obtain in the modern world.

  • 1. Obtain full body x-ray scan of Fall Guy
    2. Create a custom skeleton suit based on x-rays
    3. Pass through security wearing skeleton suit
    4. ???
    5. Profit!
  • by mbone (558574) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:34AM (#33354124)

    This article reads like a parody. Some guy is (supposedly) worried about sex offenders in the neighborhood - I know, let's X Ray everyone everyday ! That will surely keep people safe, until they all die of cancer.

    Seriously, are these guys stuck in the 1950's ? Penetrating radiation for bone scans ? On a daily basis ? I can remember when children's shoe stores had X ray machines, so Mom could view how the shoe fit, but such common uses of X Rays were stopped for a reason, and as a screening device this has no chance.

    From the article : Depending on the selected technology, a skeletal scan would only expose a person to radiation that is the approximate equivalent of taking one cross-country airline flight

    From the World Health Organization, INFORMATION SHEET Nov. 2005, on Cosmic Radiation and Air Travel : [who.int]

    Aircrew are now recognized in many countries as occupationally exposed to radiation, and radiation protection limits for aircrew are similar to those established for nuclear workers.

    If you work through the numbers (and I read the above to mean that, at best, radiation exposure would be similar to air travel, so this is a lower bound), a daily scan would thus amount to 2 to 5 milliSievert (mSv) of radiation each year, substantially exceeding the ICRP guideline of no more than 1 mSv exposure to any fetus during pregnancy, and coming close to or exceeding the guideline of 4 mSv exposure for ordinary workers.

    This would, at a minimum, mean that anyone at risk of pregnancy should not be scanned, and radiation workers should not be scanned (as they are typically close to their limits). There is thus just no chance that this would be adopted for regular screening of the general population.

  • They state that "a skeletal scan would only expose a person to radiation that is the approximate equivalent of taking one cross-country airline flight", but If they implement it as they hope, to "scan the skeletal structures of people at airports, sports stadiums, theme parks and other public places that could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks, child abductions or other crimes" - how much radiation is that per year? I suppose that scanning your skeleton is only possible with radiation that is strong enoug
  • by phorwich (909601) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @10:04AM (#33354576)
    Interesting, but... The scheme fails to account for the fact that human bones remodel and change shape over time. In fact, the premise appears to count on the fact that people's bones will remain unchanged. It's just not so. The skeleton is a changing organ. More info can be found in this wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_remodeling [wikipedia.org] One could imagine a database of "bone information" that is cross-referenced to identity. While it's possible the data would initially be useful, over time the database would become increasingly inaccurate as peoples' bones changed. How often would the authors suggest that people be rescanned to maintain accuracy?
  • Just break something. You have 206 chances to fool the system.
  • Yes it might be able to identify a "potential" terrorist by identifying them. However, if I remember correctly, you are innocent until proven guilty. So we have identified a potential terrorist, legitimately visiting his sick grandma in denver. He is flying with his toothbrush and shorts. So what. What we need to do is identify that the toothpaste is really an explosive. And if he is a good terrorist, he isn't going to carry the stuff on the plane with him, someone else will or it will be planted. We

    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      It isn't only about guilt or innocence. It is also about who the airlines allow to fly on their planes.

      Every American has the lawful ability to amass an arsenal of devastating force. It's a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT! It is only fair that the airlines have the right to be selective in the matter of plane passengers.

      There are a lot of nuts out there!

    • So.. lets see. to get the identification they must have been scanned before. But if they are a known terrorist, and you have scanned them, shouldn't they already be in jail? Of course you know this will be expanded to anyone who is ever arrested (regardless of eventual guilt) because..well all terrorists must have broken a law. This is such a freaking fail.
  • If you can meet the following criteria, you're pretty much guaranteed a research grant:

    1. Speaks to a perceived counter-terrorism need
    2. Concept works at least a little bit, on carefully selected, unrealistic, synthetic data
    3. Appears plausible to someone who either doesn't understand the science involved, or isn't interested in the idea's viability for real applications
    4. Promises to benefit the resume of someone in the government, such as by making them author of a conference paper without them having

  • Ignoring all the other problems, like radiation doses or ability to circumvent...

    How the hell do they expect to get an X-Ray scan of every major terrorist? By the time you can get one of those, you should already be able to arrest the bastard. So, are you proposing to get a regular scan of everybody, file it somewhere, and then flag it as "terrorist" when you receive information?

    Facial recognition is only feasible because getting a picture of someone is easy. Hell, just find their Facebook account, you'll b

    • by PPH (736903)

      Its no longer about terrorism. Its about controlling the masses. As you pointed out, how do you get a scan of every terrorist? You don't, because (given their current tactics) once they've proven themselves to be a terrorist, all that's left are bone fragments in the rubble of a high rise.

      When they (al Qaida) sent over the next batch, they'll pick people with clean records. So matching the airport scan to one at the entrance to a stadium or theater will only reveal the presence of a tourist going to the Y

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Well, you could conclude that it's a sinister conspiracy to establish total control, but that seems a bit unlikely, especially since the source doesn't seem to have any real contact with the government yet.

        It could also be a case of the inventor failing to consider the real-world usage of the device. After all, it would be effective against felons released from prison. It just wouldn't work against first-time offenders, like, say, suicide bombers.

        Occam's Razor indicates that incompetence, not evil, is the m

  • ....er /sorry someone had to go there.....

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