Nabbing child predators online

New Delhi, Jan 20 | Updated: Jan 21 2007, 06:30am hrs
Microsoft in conjunction with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and Interpol (ICMEC) and Interpol is training officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on preventing and prosecuting online crimes against children.

Our effort is to implement Microsofts internet safety initiatives focused on protecting the public from the growing Internet threats, including malicious code, botnets, spam, online fraud, and other cyber attacks. The course topics range from malicious software, phishing, Botnet attacks, advanced Windows/XP Forensics, Windows Vista Security Enhancements, and log analysis to specific methods used by predators to facilitate crimes against children, like the use of technology to look for victims through newsgroups, chat rooms, and email and global sharing of abusive images of children through the Net, said Rakshi Bakshi, director, legal and corporate affairs, Microsoft India.

Around 50 CBI officers besides law enforcement officials from Tanzania, Italy, Nepal, China and Cambodia are attending the training course being conducted in Ghaziabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

Till 2006, we have registered 350,000 reports of child pornography cases through our Cyber Tip helpline, said ICMEC senior program manager Guill-ermo Galarza Abizaid, who was here to train the officers.

Says Vidya Reddy, founder, Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, When child predators abuse children, they click photogra-phs which are swapped within user groups. These find their way to the Net, and are even up for sale on certain sites.

That is where tracking of such online trades come in. With the help of cyber forensic tools, we can track down IP addresses and find out who is using a certain site and where he is located, leading ultimately to an arrest, says Yves Rolland, crime intelligence officer, trafficking in human beings sub-directorate, Interpol. Rolland cited the case of a child predator in India who had been arrested by the police with the help of Interpol recently.

Protecting children online is a particularly challenging issue as predators use both technical and social engineering to mask their intent. Agrees Bakshi, The spam filters, pop-up blockers, and picture blockers provide a layer of protection for children. The controls we have had in Xbox since its launch enable parents to limit childrens access to inappropriate games. But, there has to be more widespread understanding of how to use those tools.