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Security of ubiquitous computing systems
Avoine G., Hernandez-Castro J., Springer, Switzerland, 2021. 283 pp. Type: Book (978-3-030105-90-7)
Date Reviewed: Apr 25 2022

Frankly, my first reaction to this book was a silent groan. Why do some people seem to think that a technical book must be obscure, unbelievably boring, and written by people with poor-to-mediocre language skills? Come on! Read Knuth’s The art of computer programming [1] or Myers’ The art of software testing [2]. Those books are 50 years old, still relevant, eminently readable while highly technical, and entertaining--as such books should be. There is no excuse for writing really bad prose. This book is a chore to read, even if the technical content is pretty much “okay” (though not a lot more than that).

Security of ubiquitous computing systems is about those technological systems that allow, facilitate, and encourage a certain type of computing system: those that tend to be hidden from direct view. Such systems tend to be highly sensitive to society; hence, their security and reliability are very important. From the back cover:

the objective ... was to improve and adapt existent cryptanalysis methodologies and tools to the ubiquitous computing framework. The cryptanalysis implemented lies along four axes: cryptographic models, cryptanalysis of building blocks, hardware and software security engineering, and security assessment of real-world systems.

The subject is fascinating, timely, and very important. It deserves a truly well-written and well-designed book. This is not that book, though it has some technical merit.

The book is a compendium of articles; it is obvious that the authors of one article are not aware of what the other articles and authors address. There is no apparent integration of materials--not even an index. However, there is a table of contents and a bibliography consisting of more than 600 entries--more than 12 percent of the book. Somehow that seems, to me, rather contrived.

The editors did not include an introductory chapter with an overview of the subject matter of the book and descriptions of why these particular chapters were selected. One gets the impression that selection was based upon “non-technical” criteria.

There are no chapters/articles with example applications or implementations to illustrate the techniques, which should clearly be de rigueur for a complex subject. As a ten-year-old girl recently remarked to me: “It is a waste of trees.” I like trees. I also like good writing and I dislike mind-numbing boredom, particularly of technical and socially important subjects. Unless one has a very clear need that this book may be able to address, skip it.

Reviewer:  Mordechai Ben-Menachem Review #: CR147433 (2207-0090)
1) Knuth, D. E. The art of computer programming. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Reading, MA, 1973.
2) Myers, G. J. The art of software testing. Wiley, New York, NY, 1979.
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