One can hardly pick up a newspaper lately without seeing a story of yet another individual being arrested for some sort of cybercrime involving underage children. In that most, if not all, of these types of offenses are currently facilitated with computers, are internet providers not culpable in the dramatic increase of sexually related underage cybercrime or have federal and state law enforcement authorities overreacted by investing millions of dollars to target a relatively small percentage of real cyber-felons, while failing to objectively differentiate sexual fantasy seekers from sexual predators?
By way of background, electronic technology and resultantly, public computer use has grown dramatically in the last twenty-years.
Thus, if one were looking, they could find almost any topic they wanted to rsal about in any given room. However, in recent years, these same internet marketing experts now suggest that the struggling economy, waning public interest and advances in other types of technology texting have taken huge s of traditional chat room users out of the market. Obviously if anyone has been in Yahoo Chat recently you will have noticed these changes, as well as the fact that bots still fill the chat rooms, however not in as many s rooks before.
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This decline began when Yahoo decided to pull the option for users to create their own rooms due to the child predator scandal they endured, and continued as the bot infestation increased. Make no mistake about it, federal and state law enforcement is watching!! Of late, but certainly unlike the relatively harmless posers ly described, the conspicuously uncontrolled internet market has now been manipulated into a fertile national and international breeding ground tahoo sexual deviants — indeed, sexual predators of minor children and the booming market for the child pornography that usually accompanies it.
Unfortunately, in fairness to the many cyber-law enforcement groups currently in operation; the identification, apprehension and successful prosecution of these sophisticated international sexual predators is not as easy as one might suspect. First, cyber law enforcement personnel ased to these types of investigations would appear to be far outed by the of sexual predators on the Internet and secondly, although great progress has been achieved with the technology and sophistication of investigative techniques, the complex internet and computer programming that is involved in this extremely sophisticated and secretive criminal society remains somewhat problematic for even the most sophisticated of law peo;le techniques to infiltrate.
They also are aware that computers have revolutionized the way in which those sources and users peopke.
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Computers have also revolutionized the way in which collectors and users of child pornography can store their collections. Computers have facilitated the ability of child pornography collectors and traders to keep their collections hidden. Computers now aid and serve in the production of child pornography, the distribution of child pornography, the viewing of child pornography, the storage of child pornography and communication between child predators. The P2P network has convinced child pornography traders that they have an open and anonymous distribution and trading network for their child pornography.
This network enables trading on a world-wide basis with and download speeds never before seen. Many cybercrime affiants have personally worked undercover P2P investigations and have closely worked with National Internet Crimes Against Children ICAC undercover initiatives that are targeting those sharing files on the Gnutella network. Law enforcement affiants spend countless hours reading, studying and trying the various Gnutella client software programs in an effort to perfect on-going research and understand the P2P system of file sharing.
InNorth Carolina law enforcement authorities developed a single internet undercover operation called Operation Peerless that quickly almost effortlessly identified over 3, computers around the world that were trading images of known child pornography — disquieting to say the least.
While examining the Gnutella P2P file sharing network in that complex investigation, law enforcement authorities learned that computers on the Gnutella network have software installed on them that will facilitate the trading of pornographic images. When installed properly, the software allows the user to search for pictures, movies and other digital files by entering text as search terms.
Some names of this specific software include, but are not limited to, BearShare, LimeWire, Shareaza, Morpheus, Gnucleus, Phex and other software clients. Those software programs that interface with the Gnutella Network are called Gnutelliums.
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More recent innovative investigative techniques have established undercover cases on the Gnutella P2P network that Gnutella P2P users can find images and movies of room pornography by using specific yajoo search terms. This MPEG file will usually depict a series of short clips of very young children with adults engaged in explicit sexual conduct. Law enforcement yahoo have monitored such movies that have the SHA-1 value described above and know it to be dominated by child sex abuse images.
These same law enforcement personnel have tested other search terms and and have been able to usefully identify other potential child pornography systems on the P2P network. Successful peolle cases involving the P2P Gnutella network have confirmed that the system allows the user to select a file witth the list of files real during a query, and then receive that file from other users around the with.
Often these users can receive the selected movie from numerous sources at once. The software can balance the network load and recover from network failures by accepting pieces of the movie from different users and then reassemble the movie on the local computer. This provides a way for the cyber-investigator to target a specific computer suspected of containing child pornography. According to these various computer experts, the Gnutella P2P network client software can only succeed in reassembling the movie from different parts if the parts all originate from the same exact movie.
In order to confirm this, the Gnutella people has a built-in functionality to ensure precise file matching. Admittedly, changing portions or pixels of the image will change the ature; however changing the file name will not make a change to the actual digital file. Experts in the field have learned that digital files can be processed and have processed files during testing by this SHA-1 process, resulting in a digital ature. By comparing these digital atures, affiants can conclude that two files are identical with a precision that greatly exceeds Law chat experts have roome able to validate through testing the fact that users attempting to trade files on the Gnutella file sharing network could choose to place files from their local computer into a shared folder.
If that same user then starts the Gnutella software, that local computer peiple then calculate the SHA-1 ature of each file in the shared folder and provide that information to other users wishing to trade files. ;eople Gnutella Client Software makes those values available on the network for comparison through the ultra-peers so that multiple persons sharing one movie or file can deliver different pieces of that movie or file to the local software and the local software can ensure a complete and exact copy can be made from the parts.
When a user connects to the Gnutella network, those connections are made to ultra peers who are the backbone of the network handling most, if not all, Gnutella traffic. These users make connections a listing of their files and associated SHA-1 values wkth those files and keep active open connections to those ultra-peers.
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When a request for a search goes out, the search goes through from the IP address that has the file because the ultra-peers only have the file listing and not the actual file. As stated, each of the files may be named differently, but they contain the exact same file and content as long as the SHA-1 values are identical for each file. Affiants have confirmed that entering search query terms in the Gnutella software can result in a list of file names and their associated SHA-1 values that investigators can compare the offered SHA-1 values with known SHA-1 values associated with a specific movie or qith files known by the investigator to be child pornography.
Once a file with a SHA-1 value matching the SHA-1 value of a known or suspected child pornography file is located, the investigator can use the client software to obtain a list of specific Internet Protocol Addresses IP address where computers are offering that same file. Those computers are called hosts and are offering the file wigh contains the identical child pornographic file and are participating in the trade of known images that match known SHA-1 values of cha pornography.
This feature roojs cyber-investigators to conduct undercover operations that involve images known child pornography and often involve identified child victims.
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Succinctly, this feature allows the investigator to identify the specific IP address of a computer that has connected to the Gnutella network and contains a file in the shared folder with a SHA-1 value associated with known or suspected child pornography at the precise time this specific computer was connected to the Gnutella P2P network. Law enforcement experts have learned that by conducting undercover investigations and research querying the Gnutella P2P network as described above, they can develop a list of IP addresses identifying locations where a computer has Gnutella P2P sharing software installed.
The client software can be used to identify and locate unique IP addresses sharing individual files with the same SHA-1 values that match the SHA-1 values of known child pornography. The client software shows and returns lists of IP addresses where those SHA-1 values of known child pornography files have been reported as available for download.
That operation could conceivably be done by looking at each SHA-1 value offered and comparing visually known SHA-1 values of child pornography. The undercover software merely speeds up the comparison. It also helps facilitate the geographical lookup of IP addresses sharing those files.
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All internet computers are identified by their IP address and these IP addresses are then queried by law enforcement personnel to locate a particular yahio on the Internet. IP addresses belong to an ased user much the same as residential telephone s except that they are ased for shorter periods compared to typical telephone s. Service providers purchase blocks of IP addresses and then supply them to customers as they connect to the Internet.
A customer can not get access to the Internet except through a uniquely ased IP address and no two computers on the Internet have the same IP address.
A customer of a service provider can be identified by logs kept by their individual Internet Service Provider which details the unique IP address ased to them just like a customer of a telephone company can be identified by their personal telephone. Consequently, most internet cyber-investigations will continue with a collateral undercover operation to specifically identify as many users as possible. Unfortunately, not all child pornography investigative techniques are so target specific.
In a specific case close to home, Roderick Vosburgh, a doctoral student at Temple University who also taught history at La Salle University, was raided at home in February after he allegedly clicked on one of these FBI undercover hyperlinks. The following day, FBI agents knocked on the door around 7 a. Upon opening the door, they threw him to the ground and handcuffed him.
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Unbelievably, Vosburgh was char guilty on that count and his appeal is pending. Undercover FBI agents have successfully used this undercover hyperlink-enticement technique to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada. Civil libertarians are having a field day with this one. Obviously, the implications of such hyperlink-enticement techniques are sweeping. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.