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Defense Dept. using new tech tools to investigate child porn

Top cybercrime researchers are working on the effort

By Paul Roberts
January 25, 2005 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The U.S. Department of Defense has spent $500,000 and put its top cybercrime researchers on a program to make the fight against child pornography more efficient, according to officials at the agency.
The Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) launched the Known Image Database System, or KIDS, in July to hasten the identification of pornographic images depicting children and relieve the workload on swamped computer crime investigators. The new program is pioneering investigative strategies and tools for cases involving huge quantities of seized data and may yield techniques that help the department prosecute other kinds of cases, including cyberterrorism and espionage, according to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ken Zatyko, director of the agency's Computer Forensic Laboratory
The emphasis on fighting child pornography is the result of a flood of such cases that has swamped Defense Department forensics examiners and their counterparts in federal, state and local law enforcement, said Bill Harback, a senior forensic examiner at the DOD Computer Forensic Lab in Linthicum, Md., who spoke earlier this month at the Defense Department Cyber Crime Conference in Florida.
"It started with case overload. [Law enforcement] was overwhelmed by the number of computer crime cases out there, and a good number were child pornography [cases]," he said at the conference.
In fact, as much as half of all criminal forensic investigations done by DC3 staff involve child pornography, said Steven Shirley, executive director of DC3.
Forensic investigations of child pornography cases typically require investigators to sift through images on seized computer hard drives and identify pornographic images that depict minors. The work can take weeks or months to complete for a single case, which can jeopardize some criminal investigations and wear on investigators, Harback said.
Work on the child pornography cases siphons investigators from other high-priority cases such as terrorism, homicides, espionage and major government procurement fraud, Zatyko said.
For KIDS, the department last May contracted with General Dynamics Corp. to create a large database of known child porn images that can be identified by message-digest algorithms, also known as "hash sets," which are unique alphanumeric values that identify each image based on its content. General Dynamics staff worked for a month to develop new, accurate hash sets for the database of images, which the Defense Department maintains on a high-capacity storage-area network, Zatyko said.
The Defense Department provided General Dynamics with the equipment and facilities to develop the new system and a person to manage the hash sets created for the program, he said.
The KIDS hash sets are used to rapidly compare a suspect image or images on

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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