Child porn virus infecting computers across country - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Child porn virus infecting computers across country

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Several computers across the country are playing “host” to child pornography and owners may not even know it. According to several published reports, a new virus targets unsuspecting computers from a remote location to store and view child pornography.

Region 8 News wanted to know the ramifications a person would face if charged with child pornography, despite the fact they didn’t know about the material.

“We're not only trying to prove that they're guilty. We’re trying to prove that they're innocent. I don’t ever want to see anyone go away for a crime like this, this nasty crime, unless they're guilty of it,” said Sgt. Gary Shackelford with the Jonesboro Police Department.

According to Shackelford, investigators first check to see if a computer has a virus on it before jumping to conclusions that the subject is viewing child pornography.

“The cases that we work are not a jump out and hit one time deal. We usually monitor and watch people for a good amount of time,” said Shackelford. “People may have a virus and end up being hit over a course of time, and I understand that. Can it happen? I believe it can happen.”

“We have the means of doing computer forensics and computer forensics are black and white. They don't lie,” said Shackelford.

Shackelford said investigators examine a person’s intent. In many instances, Shackelford said, people accidentally click on a link that leads to criminal material. That doesn’t mean a crime was committed.

“A person could be searching for adult porn. They could be searching for pictures of Mickey Mouse. Everybody has done it. Everybody has gone out on the computer, typed in something and they didn't get back what they thought,” said Shackelford. “When we do these investigations, we can forensically look in the computer and say hey, what is consistently being sought on this computer?”

Shackelford said investigators also look at keywords used in search forms.

“That shows their intent. This wasn't an accident,” said Shackelford.

Shackelford said he believes 90% of all virus infected computers are a result of people going to sites and using third-party material they shouldn’t have been around. He said many people use file sharing software to download illegal material.

“There are going to be programs that try to load malicious type software for identity issues, for putting child porn on your computer,” said Shackelford. “They're job at that point is to say, what does this virus do? A lot of viruses, trojans, worms and hijacks, a lot of different things that are out there. They have specific things that they do.”

Shackelford said child pornography is a crime not normally seen, but it’s prevalent around Region 8.

“This is a crime that's committed behind closed doors. It’s committed 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” said Shackelford. “When I first started this job, I was not aware of what was going on with the images and the movies that are out there.”

“It could be something minor that's tracking where you're going to give you innocent ads and it could be something as malicious as storing child pornography on your hard drive,” said Chase Gist at Millennium 3 of Jonesboro.

Gist said people can take steps to protect their computer from spyware and other malicious software.

“Make sure that you have an antivirus on your computer, and more than that, make sure that it is up to date and that it's scheduled to run a scan daily,” said Gist. “The second thing is make sure that your firewall is active. The third thing is make sure that if you have a wireless network, that it is secured. You’d be surprised how many people we see that do not have a secured wireless network.”

Signs a computer is infected include slow performance, random lock-ups and unusually web-browser activity.

Gist said it’s much easier to be proactive to keep your name clean.

“Preventative measures are much cheaper than trying to fix it after the fact and that's always how it is,” said Gist. “That's all they wanted to do was clear their name, you know, I’m not somebody who looks at child pornography and they wanted to prove that to people and it cost them their lives.”

 

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