Computer Forensics - Internet Child Abuse
"Child pornography or internet child abuse exists primarily for consumption by paedophiles. If there were no paedophiles, there would be no child pornography." Metropolitan Police Force, London, England
Regrettably, this area of computer investigation steadily grows, as more suspect abusers are caught by law enforcement. Catching the perpetrator is just the start of the gathering of the evidence, as more commonly than not, the evidence that will have the suspect committed will be his or her computer, mobile phone or Personal Digital Assistant, (PDA).
Collating the data in a forensically sound manner is a very exact science. A detailed bit by bit image is taken of the hard drive(s) on the suspect abusers computer and a hash value is taken, (a unique number that is used to verify that no data has been changed on the imaged hard drive). This image is obtained utilising specialist equipment called ‘write blockers’ to ensure that the suspects data cannot physically be written to and therefore the imaging process cannot alter the suspects data, thus ensuring the integrity of the data of the suspect.
Then the copied data is examined using tools such as EnCase, LoPE or FTK. Operators of these suites of software should have been on training courses giving them specialist knowledge of these tools, so that they are expert in their use. The data found in these cases is reported in specialist reports that are useable in a court of law. It is then the job of the Crown Prosecution Service and the jury to have the suspect judged as either innocent, guilty or acquitted of the charges.
Similar methods are used for mobile phones and PDA’s, however, they utilise different tools and hardware.
What are Paedophiles?
Paedophiles are individuals with a preferred sexual interest in children, and they are the primary producers, distributors and users of this sinister material.
The primary reasons why paedophiles produce, use and collect child pornography are:
To enhance their status within their own ‘Ring of Paedophiles’.
For their own sexual arousal and gratification
To lower the inhibitions of their child victims
As 'blackmail' to ensure that the child does not tell the 'secret' of the activity that he or she is being forced to endure.
To preserve the child's 'youth' by maintaining a pictorial record of the child's appearance at the 'desirable' age even after he or she has grown older and matured.
As a medium of exchange with other paedophiles to enlarge their child pornography collection and to gain access to other children.