Web crawler takes aim at child exploitation

Nov 24, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at Simon Fraser University’s International Cybercrime Research Centre hope a tool they’ve developed to track websites that exploit children can help police better investigate the crime.

A web crawler developed by criminology PhD student Richard Frank allows researchers to collect massive samples – more than 200,000 web pages at a time –while keeping researchers safe from viewing the content.

In their latest study researchers analyzed how the networks are structured and applied various “attack” strategies to determine which would cause the most disruption to such networks.

Frank, who also has a PhD in computing science from SFU, says attack strategies are aimed at those websites that combine two important characteristics. “One is exposure to the public, measured as the number of incoming web links to a given site, and the other, content severity, measured by a scale of the gravity of the images or simply the text found on a website.

“Eventually we hope to understand the life cycle of a website hosting this type of content; when it is created, what content is put on it, how content shifts from one website to another, and how it 'dies',” he adds.

Frank, along with project supervisor Martin Bouchard and researchers Bryce Westlake and Kila Joffres earned an honorable mention at a recent European informatics conference for their paper Strategies to Disrupt Online Child Porn Networks.

Joffres will now focus use of the web crawler on terrorism websites.

The project is one of several underway at the centre, established in 2008 and now based at SFU Surrey’s new Podium 2.

Bouchard, an assistant criminology professor, studies the role of social networks in various criminal career outcomes. He is co-author of two recent books, Illegal Markets and the Economics of Organized Crime (2010) and World Wide Weed: Global Cannabis Cultivation and its Control (2011).

Explore further: What the dog-fish and camel-bird can tell us about how our brains work

More information: Paper: at.sfu.ca/TspXaA

Related Stories

Safe 'sandbox' for the internet of the future

May 13, 2011

To better protect new Internet applications against hacker attacks and other types of manipulation, Siemens is taking part in the EU’s WebSand research project. In cooperation with partner organizations ...

Strong social networks mean less stress for parents

Nov 10, 2011

A U of A professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy has found that those conversations with fellow parents around the barbeque or at the playground can be important to maintaining a happy family.

Social media lawsuits are multiplying

May 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Defamation is becoming a huge issue on social media sites as lawsuits for this particular offence are rising dramatically. In Canada and the US, 15 percent of all Web 2.0 rulings were on defamation ...

Mobile phone software to help keep kids safe

Feb 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Children who use social media on their mobile phones can now check their friends really are who they say they are, thanks to new mobile phone software.

Researchers trace source of cocaine-driven TB outbreak

Feb 23, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Simon Fraser University researchers are the first to combine the latest techniques of whole bacterial genome analysis with social networking surveys to track down the puzzling origins of a ...

Recommended for you

Researchers build first working memcomputer prototype

Jul 06, 2015

(Tech Xplore)—A combined team of researchers from the University of California and Politecnico di Torino in Italy has built, for the first time, a working memory-crunching computer (memcomputer) prototype. ...

EU open source software project receives green light

Jul 01, 2015

An open source software project involving the University of Southampton to extend the capacity of computational mathematics and interactive computing environments has received over seven million euros in EU funding.

Can computers be creative?

Jul 01, 2015

The EU-funded 'What-if Machine' (WHIM) project not only generates fictional storylines but also judges their potential usefulness and appeal. It represents a major advance in the field of computational creativity.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.