Hackers make war on Net paedophiles

COMPUTER hackers are becoming cyber vigilantes, in an attempt to rid the Internet of paedophiles trading in child pornography, by passing on details to the police or naming and shaming those involved.

One such hacker is 29-year-old Christian Valor, who lectures on Internet security. Mr Valor, who is better known on the Internet as "Se7en", released what he called his "war manifesto" on the Internet just over a year ago and vowed to deliver "genuine hacker terror" to those he found trading in child pornography on the net.

Although an accomplished hacker, who renamed the CIA web page "the Central Stupidity Agency", Se7en is not a malicious hacker, or "cracker" as they are known.

Most hackers do what they do simply because they can, and occasionally to highlight the inefficiencies in computer programmes that are supposedly secure. Crackers will hack into different systems to cause damage or to steal sensitive information.

Se7en's reasons for beginning his crusade are simple: "I had been lecturing on Internet security for a while, and I had been telling people that the amount of child pornography on the Internet that the media was claiming was there was just hype.

"Then one day I got an e-mail with a picture attachment. I opened up the picture and it was a four-year-old being raped by two grown men. I wasn't able to determine who had sent me the picture, so that's what started me off on this whole thing."

While most of the hackers tracking paedophiles are based in the United States, there are some groups in the UK who are also doing their best to stop the illegal trade.

Cotton Ward, features editor at .net magazine, began her own investigation into paedophiles using the Internet and was surprised by the sheer volume of material available.

Reader response to her story in .net led to a regular update in the magazine on sites and organisations dedicated to tracking down paedophiles.

The Internet, as it is used by most people, is mainly made up of World Wide Web pages, text and graphic files combined into pages that are accessible by anyone with a computer and modem. Alongside this run newsgroups, which pre-date the graphics-driven end of the Internet, and Internet Relay Chat, or IRC.

A newsgroup is a computerised mailing list, where all list members receive any message posted to the list by another user. The IRC chat rooms are areas where users can "chat" live to one another using text messages.

Those involved in hunting the paedophiles tend to log in to other computer systems and find out details of the people behind anonymous e-mail addresses and identities.

Once this is completed, the hackers can then go about naming and shaming the offenders. This can involve logging onto a user's machine and leaving a message on the system so that when anyone else logs on they are given a message explaining that child pornography has been deleted from the computer and naming the user who put it there.

One news group that Se7en terrorises receives about 5,000 postings a week. But this number drops dramatically if he is successful in revealing a paedophile's behaviour.

"Every time I nail someone, this figure drops to about 500 messages and stays that way for a few days. Then it gradually starts to pick up again and is soon back to 5,000."

He doubts whether paedophiles will ever be removed from the Internet: "I don't think anything will ever be done about this. It's part of human nature. The Internet is just a slice of life, a cross-section of the population. People do it, it's something that's always going to be there, you can't control it. They'll nail people here and there, but they will never be able to effectively control it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum