Specialist security distributor African Risk Mitigation (ARM) has partnered with NetClean in the fight against the proliferation of child sexual abuse images. Together, the two companies will be assisting ISPs, companies, and law enforcement across the African continent to stop the handling, downloading or distribution of child sexual abuse content.
Cybercrime is a well-known threat, with individuals and businesses the world over having protective measures in place to defend their networks against these criminals. But there are far worse offenders out there on the Internet than those looking to steal banking login details: individuals who view, source and/or distribute child sexual abuse images.
While users may think that this crime is limited to a tiny number of sick individuals, the statistics tell a different story: the UN estimates that 750 000 people are looking at child sexual abuse content online at any given time.
“Child sexual abuse images are not pornography,” explains Christian Berg, CEO of NetClean. They are images of assault, physical abuse, torture and rape committed on children under the age of 18.
They can involve photos or photomontages, videos or gifs; all depicting rape and torture. Child pornography is not the correct word to use. It has nothing to do with porn. Porn is consent between two adults who knows what they are doing. This is something completely different.”
Recent media reports of the discovery and arrest of a local child sexual abuse ring with links to Canada, the UK, the US, western Europe and Australasia are testament to the fact that South Africa is as involved in this appalling practice as any other country. Similar high profile cases around the world have demonstrated a clear link between viewing abusive material and the abuse of children.
The problem is profuse enough that Google and international ISPs are investing millions of dollars into efforts to stop the proliferation of child abuse images on the net.
However, child sexual abuse images are not only spread through public internet addresses. Digital cameras, the Internet and USB sticks make production, distribution and storage even easier. So while the efforts of Google and the other Internet companies are to be applauded, they are merely a drop in the ocean.
“Because it is not easy to find, this type of content is not easy to block,” says Berg. “You would not rely on a web filter to block computer viruses and for the same reason you cannot rely on a web filter to block child sexual abuse content. Therefore you need something which blocks the actual content, the images and videos, regardless of where it is located.”
NetClean was formed in 2003 with the idea of making use of the latest technical inventions to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material. Today, NetClean’s products have millions of users worldwide. Law enforcement agencies in more than 30 countries use NetClean Analyze to conduct their investigations.
Berg adds that studies show that one out of 1000 employees look at child abuse content using their company computer.
“This is fact and is frankly a low estimate compared to our experience. Companies with a global presence are likely to get more hits. The studies were conducted in large enterprise companies with high technical maturity and all the firewalls and filter solutions you can possibly imagine.”
NetClean therefore has three separate products: NetClean WhiteBox, ideal for ISPs as it blocks child sexual abuse content on the Internet and uses lists from Interpol and the IWF to filter http addresses; NetClean ProActive, for businesses, stopping child sexual abuse images and videos by identifying the actual content, regardless of source or transfer protocol, including USB devices; and NetClean Analyze, which is provided free to law enforcement authorities.
“Not only is NetClean a superior product that makes a great addition to our existing portfolio of best-of-breed security solutions, it is a means to help make a difference. NetClean has made huge strides in disrupting the operations of these criminals, and we are proud to be associated with the company.
“We are looking forward to working together to help fight the proliferation of child sexual abuse content,” says Francois Els, GM of ARM.