Today, Tuesday 11 February, is Safer Internet Day, an annual event that has grown to be recognised in approximately 150 countries worldwide.
Few would dispute that the internet is a wonderful invention and a priceless tool that has become an everyday part of modern living, however, due to some of the darker sides of human behaviour, it is not without problems and challenges. Many governments around the world are actively committed to improving regulation and accountability in this area (in the UK a bill is expected this year following on from a white paper published in 2019), but there remains the need for a better working solution to be applied.
Amongst other issues, the number of child sexual abuse images appearing on the internet has reached epidemic levels, according to UK charity Internet Watch Foundation who received reports of a record number of the child exploitation images on the open web in 2019, a 14% increase from 2018. At the end of 2019, the WeProtect Global Alliance Threat Assessment report announced that there are 750,000 individuals estimated to be looking to connect with children across the globe for sexual purposes online at any one time. Technology companies also reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of child abuse last year, that number was less than a million just five years ago, and is more than double what was reported the previous year, according to the American National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
At Cyan Forensics we strongly believe our technology is capable of addressing a huge and growing problem for society. Our digital forensic tools are already in use by law enforcement across the UK and internationally to scan devices for illegal material in minutes, much of which is downloaded from the internet. These tools allow rapid triage on-site, helping to find evidence early and prioritize further analysis.
Cyan Forensics can also be part of a reliable, low cost, high performance solution for social media, cloud and messaging companies. Preventing harmful content from publication and proliferation through social networks (Facebook, Snapchat, Telegram) and cloud platforms (Dropbox, OneDrive) is currently a huge, costly and unreliable process. Facebook alone employs around 20,000 people to identify this content and the human cost to individuals who are required to view these images is difficult to understate.
Our technology offers a high scalable “first line of defense” for any platform that allows the sharing of content, ensuring any content that has been identified as harmful once, can never appear on the platform again. Cyan Forensics’ completely secure (and independently audited) Contraband Filter format can be used to exchange information or harmful content between organisations, without risk to the privacy of users, suspects, offenders or victims. Our technology even works with end-to-end encrypted messages apps without compromising user privacy.
Governments have already invested in building vast databases of illegal content in their policing and intelligence organisations, but concerns around data security and privacy means that these are not used in applications where they could have huge impact – for example preventing illegal content from circulating on social media. Our technology empowers governments to apply existing data assets to achieve policy objectives in child protection and the reduction of radicalisation and terrorist activity.
Just a few days ago Cyan Forensics was confirmed as a new member of WeProtect, a global alliance of governments, charities, campaign groups and thought leaders who believe we must act together, and now, to end the sexual exploitation of children online.