back to article How malware frames the innocent for child abuse

Innocent people have been branded as child abusers after malware infected their PCs, an AP investigation has discovered. Technically sophisticated abusers sometimes store images of child abuse on PCs infected by Trojans that grant them illicit access to compromised machines. The plight of those framed in this way is all the …


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  1. The Original Ash

    What a terrible, terrible law.

    Speculation and accusation are enough to totally ostracise a person from society, emotionally cripple them, and to financially bankrupt them with legal defence costs.

    Possession laws need to be repealed. They're too broad, and a waste of time and money. Bear in mind that this was 11 months of court fees, investigation by police and forensic experts, and all at the expense of the tax payer. These resources could be put towards finding the distributors and creators of these abhorrent materials, instead of ruining the lives of not just one person, but his family, his friends, and his colleagues; After all, they were all associated with a pervert, weren't they?

    Attack the source.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Just one more reason

    "They" say that a Mac is so much more expensive than a PC, but given the choice, wouldn't you rather spend a few bob more to have peace of mind, or would you prefer having your life ruined just because you chose to save a few pennies or want to run the latest games?

  3. Drefsab


    Such as fuss is kicked up by even suspicion or even accusation of these kinds of activities that innocent people have their lives jobs and even families destroyed before the facts of the matter are even investigated.

    I really think there should be legislation brought in to protect everyone that get's suspicion or accusation. Their identities should not be made public until they are proven guilty. Once they are proven guilty then hang them but if they are innocent victims of trojans/virus's then their lives are protected.

    The biggest thing that worries me about this is that im soon to be a dad (missus is due in just over a week), is that people who have a computer that gets a virus like this and are 100% innocent would have their children taken off them. Tbh make's you want to rip the internet connection out and give it up as a bad job.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the sad thing

    The sad thing is how poorly CP on machines is investigated by law enforcement and the terribly poor reporting (little more then sensationalist page filling rubbish.)

    Now if you were say a Russian paedophile ring what you'd do is get a botnet, then someone to create a distributed encrypted storage system on infected machines (now it isn't encrypted for the good of the peoples machines that are infected but because it makes it more difficult to find out about the nature of the network) it then has upload and download via anonymous proxies, and jobs a good'n you can share your jollies with all no doubt. Even "better" if you can have some kind of front end flash player.

    In the end you normally only catch stupid guilty people, unlucky guilty people, and unlucky innocent people. Whilst rarely catching the people that tend to abuse children (biological mothers and fathers.)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    it is



    Unfortunately that's the mentality of most people in this country. Another reason to keep your PC clean I guess.

    Anonymous obviously :)

  6. The Vociferous Time Waster


    Cleared? You're never cleared of being a pedo thanks to the Daily Heil and Gordo the Gecko. Just a whiff of suspicion is enough for the knee jerk database to be riddled with entries for you which will prevent you from so much as adopting a cat, let alone a child.

    You will, however, be able to breed as many children as you like and the government will even help fund that so it's not all bad.

  7. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Learn a little security

    A damn good reason, that if you must use PC, you learn how to protect yourself and you instruct those who use it, they too must learn some basic security rules. You have a pass a test to drive a road vehicle on your own, a PC is a tool that is obviously just as dangerous as any power-tool or vehicle and needs a certain level or respect and care.

    This isn't about your personal PC, as FIola found out, a company issued PC could be used against you.

    MacTard poster above, shut up! I own pure Macs at home but I know there are some nasties out there, stop promoting that holier-than-thou attitude that Mac's are somehow immune to everything. You are still at risk, just less risk than the mutli-tude Windows users.


  8. Anonymous Coward

    @Just one more reason

    Oh will you just fuck off you smug little fanboi - do you have to use every single story to push your mac obsession.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Just one more reason

    Hmm. Do I smell a troll, or are you really that stupid? I'm not going to rise to the bait, I'll leave that to other people...

  10. Nigel 11

    Isn't it bloody obvious

    Isn't it bloody obvious that the perverts gain by making it possible to blame malware? Therefore it stands to reason that the perverts are the people writing the malware to spread paedo imagery onto an many innocent people's PCs as possible.

    How many innocent people's lives are going to be wrecked, before the courts finally realise that for as long as the world uses MS Windows, no-one is in proper control of what's stored on their hard disk?

  11. Jason Bloomberg
    Big Brother

    Mens Rea

    Surely convictions should be based upon "Beyond Reasonable Doubt". Two problems remain though -

    1) It's the allegations which ruin lives not necessarily faulty court cases.

    2) Presence of a Trojan is not, as noted, evidence that 'the crime' was not deliberate. Intent would need to be determined by other evidence if possible.

    The safety of innocent parties ultimately comes down to having a fair judicial process which isn't based on 'guilty unless proven innocent' and accepts that 'it is better for guilty men to go free than one innocent be imprisoned'.

    Unfortunately society - here and elsewhere - has turned that on its head, and it's getting worse by the day.

  12. Skizz
    Big Brother

    They say...

    ...that the best form of defense is attack. I wonder how long before there's a bot-net pushing images (not just kids, but anything extreme) onto every vulnerable PC and then sending the IP address of the targets to the police. It would, I fear, make it impossible to prosecute anyone for possesing this stuff.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Mac vs Windows

    For those commenters talking about whether Macs or Windows are vulnerable, go and have a read about how Macs are always the first to get pwned to owned in the hacker competition of that name:

    Then think twice about thinking you are safe with a Mac. If you really want to be safe, don't connect to the Internet. Otherwise you are always going to be at risk.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new....

    That paedos might be using malware to obfuscate this whole area isn't a new concept.

    It's some years since some media expert (can't remember who) was telling anyone who'd listen (which wasn't many) that such a step was inevitable, if indeed it wasn't already happening.

    By sneaking illegal material (unencrypted) onto widespread PCs, while they themselves were masters of encryption, the paedos could make identification and prosecution of real offenders difficult and tie up police time on wild goose chases. The major problem, he suggested, not being the malware agents, but a combination of gutter press and gullible police and courts, all eager for cheap pinches.

    At the time, I can remember being less than surprised at the suggestion...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is how moral panics work

    This is the culmination of two moral panics: "for the childrun" and "teh interwebz are scary dangerus!". The vetting database by contrast is there "for the childrun" (as is, scarily, contactpoint), but _uses_ that same interwebz tech for rather big fat government databases to, er, pacify the fear. None of those will do much good actual good at all, and note how at least two of them are easily abused to put your neighbour in a bad light, and a very lasting bad light.

    All three will also keep the fear going and thus reap the proposers supportive votes from the gullible.

    I for me think the extreme/kiddie porn laws excel in doing a lot of damage (exemplified here) and exactly nothing useful because punishing people for possessing pictures of (perhaps imagined, qv. cartoons etc.) abuse does exactly nothing to prevent harm, sexual or otherwise, from happening. What would prevent harm from happening is to find the producers of actual abuse and resultant pictures as quick as possible, and in that light is prosecuting for possession a waste of time and resources. Therefore: This law pursues the wrong thing in the wrong way. This is bad law.

  16. Andus McCoatover

    @Fuzzywhatnot and @Niggle-11


    "You have a pass a test to drive a road vehicle on your own, a PC is a tool that is obviously just as dangerous as any power-tool or vehicle and needs a certain level or respect and care"

    Yep, so how do I pass a test for that Black-and-Decker (OK Stanley Black-'n'-Decker now) in the garage?

    Nigel: When anyone says "It stands to reason" I understand full well that both of us know the issue in hand DOESN'T "stand to reason".

    But, sheesh, a quarter of a million greenbacks just to prove innocence? Then the state has the impertinence to cap any chance he has of getting his money/life back? Merkan retard system.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    It's not just you that nees to be clean

    Trying to keep this stuff off your PC/Mac isn't just a question of personal hygiene. Visiting an infected site can end up with filth loaded onto you PC. How often do main stream sites get 0wned? All they need to do is link to an image, set the display size to something tiny and your PC's cache ends up full of the sort of things you end up inside for and you'd be none the wiser.

  18. James O'Brien

    @Just one more reason

    ODFO! I like what the commentard said about the pwn 2 own contest because if this isnt a dead give away of how insecure your (Gods greatest)OS is then I dont know what is. I dont know a better way to say it. Now go stick your head back in the sand like a nice little troll.

    /Fail because its nice to see Macs go down at that contest.

  19. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    @The Fuzzy Wotnot

    "A damn good reason, that if you must use PC, you learn how to protect yourself"

    Yes, I agree, but consider this: I've been using computers for 30 years now. I run AVG anti-virus, Zone Alarm Firewall, Thunderbird, Firefox with NoScript and AdBlock Plus, Spybot search and destroy and I don't run software I don't know the source of, yet still, last week, I found that my website had been compromised because a trojan had sneaked through an unpatched flaw and stolen my log-in and was merrily trying to redirect people to malware sites (fortunately my hosts' software controls picked it up)

    The upshot of this is that, just like when I'm riding my motorbike (which, of course, I had to pass a test for), I know that despite *ALL* the precautions I take, there's always the chance that something will happen out of the blue.

    So it's all very well to say "learn a little security", but don't let your smugness blind you to the fact that you, too, are vulnerable.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Not just Mac or Windows

    My Linux computer got hacked once just because I accidentally left the apache web server open to the world with nothing even on it. Someone someone managed to hack it and set up a paypal scam site on my home computer. And no they didn't guess my password. In fact I have no idea how they did it, this was a few years ago now though.

    So how easy is it for people to do much worse?

    Oh and I don't leave anything open to the world now because all software is vulnerable Mac, Linux or otherwise someone has just got to be keen, all the antivirus software in the world ain't going to help you if it's not an ordinary trojan/virus.

  21. Stephen Byrne

    Linked article is a scary read for more than one reason...

    "This defense was curtailed, however, when Loehrs ended her investigation in a dispute with the judge over her fees. Computer exams can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Defendants can ask the courts to pay, but sometimes judges balk at the price"

    So basically one of these supposed experts let a man go down because she wanted more money than the judge was willing to pay.

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