New Internet tool helps track down cyber-terror

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Studies websites, forums and blogs

Frank Luba

A new Internet-sleuthing tool has been developed to allow police to hunt down criminals and terrorists online.

The Dark Web Project is being used to investigate terrorists, including those in Canada, a Vancouver conference heard yesterday.

“We’re not trying to be the Sherlock Holmes of the Internet,” said Dr. Hsinchun Chen, director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona.

“We’re trying to be the Dr. Watson, to create the tools that people use to find criminals . . . I’m just making their life easier,” he said in an interview after his presentation at the Policing Cyberspace international conference.

Chen said that prior to the development of his new tools it would take police three to four weeks to track down the data they needed for a criminal case.

“By using the tools, they can do it in three minutes,” he said.

The Dark Web studies websites and enters blogs and forums and creates profiles of postings, even if they’re anonymous.

Chen’s tools even look at game-playing activities like Second Life, an online community where people create computer images of themselves and lead fantasy lives.

Some of those ‘avatars’ are acting like terrorists, so Chen has developed computer tools to monitor their Second Life activities to see if they really are terrorists.

Cyberspace problems are real and affect many people according to Rob Gordon, director of Simon Fraser University‘s School of Criminology.

“It’s important to regulate and police the virtual world, which is a world that is increasingly affecting the man on the street,” said Gordon.

“There’s a colossal international network we call the web which provides numerous opportunities for individuals to rip off other individuals,” he said.

To stop cybercrime, Gordon recommends turning off your modem as well as your computer when not in use.

© The Vancouver Province 2008


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