Putting an End to Child Sexual Exploitation with Digital Forensics

Child Sexual exploitation has been an issue globally that we have been facing for centuries, and with the digital era, it is becoming more common and widespread.

Offenders now have the ability to find their victims online and communicate with them through messenger and social media apps. These offenders will often share these images of child exploitation across the internet. In 2021, there were 252,000 URLs containing images or videos of children being sexually abused, which is fifteen times more material available online than there was a decade ago.

Challenges Law Enforcement Face in Child Exploitation Cases

The main challenge law enforcement face today is the growing amount of child abuse data that needs to be analyzed daily. In 2021, the CyberTipline, NCMEC‘s centralized reporting system, received 29 million reports of child sexual exploitation, which is up from 21.7 million reports in 2020.

Digital Forensic Solutions

The silver lining of more of these activities being conducted online is that it causes online abusers to leave a digital trace.

At Oxygen Forensics, we are determined to help investigators put an end to child sexual exploitation by providing them with tools that maximize their efficiency and ease their workflow.

Joining Forces Against Child Exploitation

In January 2018, Oxygen Forensics and Project VIС launched a partnership in an effort to fight child exploitation.

Project VIC is a non-profit organization that focuses on developing innovative technologies and victim-centric examination workflows to help fight crimes against children. This software allows forensic investigators to search for and identify known child abuse content in mobile and cloud extractions by hash sets downloaded and configured from the Project VIC library. Investigators can also export hash information and file metadata to a JSON file compatible with Project VIC.

To make use of this functionality, an investigator should have a fully-featured license of Oxygen Forensic® Detective and access to the Project VIC library with hash sets. This access can be obtained by law enforcement officers through the Project VIC site.

Oxygen Forensic® Detective a Child Exploitation Solution

Oxygen Forensic® Detective extracts data from a mobile device, cloud account, or other supported digital sources.

Go to the Search section

  1. Select the Hash sets tab
  2. Press the Hash sets button
  3. Upload the Project VIC hash set by pressing the Add hash set button
  4. Select the uploaded hash set(s) and
  5. Press Search

Any images that are identified by hash will be classified in accordance with the Project VIC Classification Standard. Forensic investigators can also generate a report with the critical evidence in any of the supported formats: PDF, XLS, XML, etc.

Creating a new hash set in Oxygen ForensicⓇ Detective software window

Built-in AI Categorizes and Identifies Images Faster

If the device belongs to the offender, Oxygen Forensic® Detective uses built-in Image Categorization which allows law enforcement to identify potentially disturbing media quickly and efficiently. By running Image Categorization it can recognize photos and videos containing identified information from 14 categories, including pornography and child abuse.

This feature can be utilized when extracting and importing device data, as well as on already imported backups. In both cases, the investigator can fine-tune the positive “hit” settings by setting identification thresholds in the Options/Advanced analytics menu in Oxygen Forensic® Detective. After running the Image Categorization, the number of matching images for a required category is automatically tagged and identified in both the Key Evidence and Files sections.

Oxygen ForensicⓇ Detective software window open using the Image Categorization tool

Analyzing Data from Apps Often Used by Offenders

Oxygen Forensic® Detective v.14.4 extracts and analyzes data from over 29500+ app versions, including many messaging and social network apps that are typically used by the offenders, such as Snapchat, Kik, TikTok, Whisper, Tinder, etc. Moreover, Oxygen Forensic® Detective software decrypts even the most secure messengers that are mentioned in child abuse cases, like Wickr Me.

As soon as the data is extracted from the device or the backup is imported, all the apps from which the data was parsed will be listed on the Oxygen Forensic® Detective main extraction screen. To view all the information stored inside, select the app of interest.

Identifying and analyzing messages through Oxygen ForensicⓇ Detective that were sent over apps used by child exploitation offenders

Additional Analytical Tools that Oxygen Forensic® Detective Offers

Oxygen Forensic® Detective offers several other analytical tools that allow investigators to take a deeper look into child abuse cases, such as finding social connections or reconstructing event timelines.

The Timeline section summarizes all events in chronological order: calendar events, messages, calls, web cache, web connections, voicemails, photos, videos, history, and more. Investigators now have a number of powerful filters and convenient data presentation modes that allow them to focus on the analysis of only the most pertinent data.

If the communicational patterns need to be analyzed further, go to the Social Graph. There, all chats and contacts from apps and the device itself will be depicted, allowing the investigator to view a visual representation of the connections between the device owner and third parties.
Investigators can view chats, information about calls, and contact cards.

Creating a timeline in Oxygen ForensicⓇ Detective Timeline tool

Conclusion

With digital crimes like child exploitation becoming more widespread, finding solutions to collect data to find and prosecute criminals quicker should be a priority for law enforcement. Oxygen Forensic® Detective is designed to be an all-in-one solution for law enforcement by helping extract, import, analyze, categorize, and create a timeline of evidence.

Interested in trying this feature but don’t have an Oxygen Forensic® Detective license? Request a free, fully-equipped, 20-day trial by contacting us here.

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