Computer Crime Research Center


Simon Fraser launches cyber crime research centre, aims to fight child porn

Date: July 09, 2008

SURREY, B.C. — Cyber crime has a new enemy.

Simon Fraser University launched an International Cybercrime Research Centre on Tuesday, saying child pornography will be its first target with a type of "good virus" that scours systems with the tenacity of a chomping Pac Man character.

"In the same way that a bad virus works by infecting machines, by hunting for certain symbols, so a good virus can operate in much the same way," said the centre's new director, Robert Gordon. "Like Pac-Man, actually starting to destroy particular forms of imagery on the Internet."

Gordon said they are already experimenting with the virus in some operating systems.

There are about 14 million pornography websites in operation today, and B.C. Labour Minister Iain Black pointed out it's estimated there are about one million child abuse images contained inside those websites.

"I am very, very pleased the centre will be working to protect children," Black told a crowd gathered at the Surrey, B.C., campus of the university.

Black announced provincial government support of $350,000 to help set up and operate the centre, as well as secure data and purchase lab equipment.

The B.C. government operates one of the largest Internet networks in North America, with 750,000 users.

While child pornography and identity theft are considered the most serious cyber crimes, the centre will also do research on criminal harassment through the Internet, money laundering, economic crimes and computer viruses.

Black compared the problem to the many-headed creature Hydra in Greek mythology.

"Each time you chop one (head) off another one appears. It happens in this case because the profits for criminals are absolutely enormous," he said.

Black quoted a recent Canadian survey that found more Canadians believe they're likely to be victims of Internet crime than they would be victims of crime on the street.

Many people ignore or delete requests for money, their bank account information or credit card numbers, but the mass quantities of illegal requests going out means that some people do send information to criminals.

Gordon believes that getting the word out about these scams will be a key priority for the centre.

"It's the same old confidence trickery that's been going around for about 500 years, but it's just in this new mode," he explained.

Gordon said in the last few days he has received similar requests from criminals and simply deleted them.

He said the centre will also focus on crime detection and helping to prosecute those responsible, a difficult predicament when the person accused of committing the crime is likely in another country.

"That requires international agreements around investigations and such proceedings," Gordon said.

Vancouver Police Insp. Kevin McQuiggan, of the forensic services section, said the centre is an excellent way to collaborate on these types of crimes.

"I think it goes beyond the police, and that police and industry and academia all have to work together to address the problem."

The centre will also investigate crime trends and help establish new tools to counter constantly changing Internet crimes.

Add comment  Email to a Friend

Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo